North Korea Supposedly Using Cryptocurrency to Fund Its Nuclear Program

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A recent report by the online technology publication Wired alleges that North Korean hackers could be using crypto attacks and hacks as a way to fund state nuclear programs.



The elite hacker group known as APT 38 is said to be operating under the behest of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The attackers are believed to have successfully raised more than $1 billion through state-sponsored attacks on security systems of global banks.

North Korea Hiring Crypto Hackers?

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was placed under international economic sanctions after it carried out a string of nuclear tests. Because this further crippled the financial condition of the country, its leadership likely resorted to employing hacker groups to siphon funds from banks.



Reports indicate that North Korean hackers have stolen at least $571 million in planned attacks on five Asia-based cryptocurrency exchanges between January 2017 and September 2018. The money is believed to have been diverted to fund the country’s ambitious nuclear missile program.

Notably, North Korea’s nuclear program has been in development for several years now, under the guidance of the country’s current leader, Kim Jong-un. A recent report published by the United Nations Security Council took cognizance of the country’s increasing involvement in cryptocurrency and condemned state actors for attempting to dodge sanctions.

A group of 20 or fewer people is said to be running the dreaded hacker group called APT 38. Notorious for being a highly skilled and well resourced hacking group, it may have already contributed over $1 billion to the state treasury by attacking banks and crypto exchanges.

Many experts have speculated that Apt 38 is directly influenced and controlled by the Reconnaissance General Bureau, commonly referred to as the North Korean intelligence agency.

Damaging Reputation

The hacking group was deemed responsible for attacks on banks based in India, Mexico, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Chile, Taiwan, Turkey, the Philippines, Vietnam, and South Korea. The group may have also targeted banks across Europe and other developed countries, albeit without success. Money sourced through these attacks is redirected to the country’s military fund.

The alleged involvement of North Korean state actors could threaten the reputation of Bitcoin (BTC) and the rest of the cryptocurrency market. The industry is already under the heavy scrutiny of financial regulators across the globe for a variety of legal reasons.

A blockchain-based shipping project called Marine Chain was found to be organized by individuals affiliated to North Korea. The intent of the company was to entice crypto investors to contribute funds in a token sale event. The project never materialized and investors had no form of recourse available to obtain refunds.

Do you think North Korean hackers have shifted their entire focus to digital currencies now? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. 


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Rahul's cryptocurrency journey first began in 2014. With a postgraduate degree in finance, he was among the few that first recognized the sheer untapped potential of decentralized technologies. Since then, he has guided a number of startups to navigate the complex digital marketing and media outreach landscapes. His work has even influenced distinguished cryptocurrency exchanges and DeFi platforms worth millions of dollars.

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