Investing in cryptocurrencies? Here’s why you should be wary of North Korea

A North Korean hacking unit called Andariel seized a server at a South Korean company in the summer of 2017 and used it to mine about 70 Monero coins

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Market: North Korean hackers are hijacking computers to mine cryptocurrencies as the regime in Pyongyang widens its hunt for cash under tougher international sanctions.

A hacking unit called Andariel seized a server at a South Korean company in the summer of 2017 and used it to mine about 70 Monero coins — worth about $25,000 as of December 29 — according to Kwak Kyoung-ju, who leads a hacking analysis team at the South Korean government-backed Financial Security Institute.

The case underscores the increasing appetite from cyber-attackers for digital currencies that are becoming a source of income for the Kim Jong Un regime. North Korea is accelerating its pursuit of cash abroad as the world tightens its stranglehold on its conventional sources of money with sanctions cutting oil supplies and other trade bans.

“Andariel is going after anything that generates cash these days,” said Kwak. “Dust gathered over time builds a mountain.”

The hackers may have seized other computers to mine cryptocurrencies and appear to prefer Monero because the currency is more focused on privacy and easier to hide and launder than bitcoin, Kwak said, citing the analysis of the server. Andariel was able to take control of the server undetected by its operator, he said.

A cryptocurrency can be earned if a complex mathematical problem is solved, but it requires high-powered computers that often only corporations can afford. Not every company spends as much on protecting their computers from hackers. Yapian, the owner of bitcoin exchange Youbit, said in December it would close after getting breached….

Read more: Bitcoin news

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