One of the sad realities of the cryptocurrency sector is that entrepreneurs have found creative ways to cheat investors out of their hard-earned money. There have been an array of “exit scams” and fraudulent initial coin offerings (ICOs) over the years. However, there is new information suggesting that North Korean hackers are literally utilizing funds from hacking cryptocurrency exchanges for the country’s nuclear ambitions.
According to a Wired report, Apt 38 is an elite group of North Korea’s most capable hackers, and they are sponsored by the government. There are believed to be less than 20 individuals involved, but their skills have brought in $1 billion in 2018 alone from cryptocurrency heists. The group is responsible for attacks that were carried out all around the world, in countries such as India, Mexico, Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan, and more.
While there are countless cybercriminals operating in countries all around the world, it is alleged that the funds are actually funneled back into North Korea’s military operations. Specifically, the funds are being used for the missile and nuclear development programs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), according to the report.
It is easy to see why North Korea is interested in cryptocurrency. One of the main principles that is praised in the cryptocurrency community is the idea that money should be able to be transferred without the need for central banks or authorities—and that certainly helps North Korea. This is because the country believes cryptocurrency can help them evade sanctions that have been imposed on the country.
In addition, one notable example of Apt 38 at work is the Marine Chain startup scam, where cybercriminals put forth a two-page business plan to trick investors into investing in a project meant to disrupt the international shipping industry. An intelligence firm by the name of Recorded Threat was able to link the company to the North Korea hacker ring.
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