US Officials Warn of Possible Bank Hacks by North Korea

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In Brief
  • Officials have warned that North Korean hackers could be planning attacks on the U.S. financial system.

  • No details have been released regarding what specifically the threats entailed.

  • North Korea is known for its complex cybercrime division which often uses cryptocurrencies to circumvent sanctions.

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Officials have warned that there are ongoing threats against the US financial system by cybercriminals based in North Korea. There has been no explanation for what prompted the warning.

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Could North Korea be looking to destabilize the U.S. financial system? The timing is, of course, not surprising. With such a perilous macroeconomic situation, there is room for nefarious actors to take advantage.

Alleged ‘North Korean Hackers’

U.S. officials have warned that North Korean hackers may target the banking sector and other financial institutions. [Reuters]

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However, what prompted the warning is unclear as there were no specific instances or details mentioned.

North Korea has been well-known for its digital heists through which it has stolen billions of dollars. The country is known for committing cybercrimes to avoid U.S. sanctions. One of its main strategies involves stealing cryptocurrencies since they are easily transferrable.

According to a report from August 2019, the country has stolen over $2B in cryptocurrencies since 2015.

North Korea Looks to Cybercrime

The ongoing situation is ripe for exploitation by North Korea and others looking to take advantage of any vulnerabilities they can find.

However, the cryptocurrency component of North Korea’s cybercrime strategy cannot be overstated and remains a pillar of its online schemes. Yet, the country has vigorously denied the charges. When a UN report was released last year making similar accusations, the country retorted by calling it the ‘fascist UN.’

By some estimates, North Korea’s cybercrimes have made the country a cryptocurrency whale. So much so that they have allegedly been instrumental in funding its nuclear program. Reports surfaced in September 2019 showing that the country was even planning on releasing its own ‘Bitcoin-like cryptocurrency.’ However, there has been no update on these plans.

U.S. officials may be honest in admitting the North Korean threats, but the lack of details is worrying. Perhaps authorities merely have a hunch.

However, cyberattacks would only further isolate the pariah state from the U.S. and South Korea during a time when relations seem to be cooling. So, it remains to be seen whether these threats will actually materialize.

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Raised in the U.S, Lucian graduated with a BA in economic history. An accomplished freelance journalist, he specializes in writing about the cryptocurrency space and the digital '4th industrial revolution' we find ourselves in.

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