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North Korea has stolen $2bn in cyberattacks

(Image credit: Image Credit: Etereuti / Pixabay)

North Korea has turned to cybercrime to steal money and fund its nuclear program following global sanctions, a new report from the UN has claimed.

It seems as the punishments imposed by the UN Security Council on North Korea (DPRK) in 2006 to choke funding for the country’s nuclear program did little good, as a confidential UN report, states that North Korean state-sponsored hackers (opens in new tab) generated more than $2 billion through a myriad of illegal activities, with the proceedings going to the weapons of mass destruction fund.  

These hackers have been targeting banks (opens in new tab), financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges, it was said. The report adds that the money was then laundered, also through different services in the cyberspace.

“Democratic People’s Republic of Korea cyber actors, many operating under the direction of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, raise money for its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) programmes, with total proceeds to date estimated at up to two billion US dollars,” the report said.

Researchers are claiming they’re investigating “at least 35 reported instances of DPRK actors attacking financial institutions, cryptocurrency exchanges and mining activity” in 17 different countries.

Attacking cryptocurrency exchanges allowed North Korea to generate income that’s harder to trace and has less government oversight.

When asked about the U.N. report a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said: “We call upon all responsible states to take action to counter North Korea’s ability to conduct malicious cyber activity, which generates revenue that supports its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs.”

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.