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North Korea accused of major cryptocurrency heists

(Image credit: Image Credit: Etereuti / Pixabay)

North Korea has been accused of stealing billions of won worth of cryptocurrency last year.

The news comes from a member of South Korea's parliamentary intelligence committee, who revealed that actor from the nation's northern neighbour used phishing campaigns (opens in new tab) to deceive several local cryptocurrency exchanges.

According to Reuters (opens in new tab), committee member Kim Byung-kee said that phishing campaigns were launched by its northern neighbour with the goal of stealing cryptocurrency from its exchanges.  The attacks were carried out via emails that were made to appear 'official' through the use of spoofed email addresses. 

In addition to obtaining cryptocurrency, the phishing campaigns also acquired the personal information of some users. 

Kim shed further light on the nature of the phishing attacks, saying: 

“North Korea sent emails that could hack into cryptocurrency exchanges and their customers’ private information and stole (cryptocurrency) worth billions of won.” 

The news is quite troubling given the growing popularity of cryptocurrency in South Korea and the fact that the country has decided not to ban local exchanges (opens in new tab)

It is still unclear the number of users who have been affected by North Korea's phishing campaigns as Kim did not disclose which exchanges were compromised in the attacks.  However, he did note that South Korea is constantly testing the cyber defences of its exchanges. 

Cryptocurrency exchanges are often targeted by hackers due to the large amount of digital currency they hold at any given time and this is one reason hardware wallets have become popular with crypto enthusiasts. 

Image Credit:  Etereuti / Pixabay

Anthony Spadafora
Anthony Spadafora

After getting his start at ITProPortal and then working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches to how to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.