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North Korea tied to cyberattacks on banks in 30 countries

By
Elizabeth Shim
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un may have ordered cyberattacks against banks in dozens of countries, according to a U.S. cybersecurity firm. File Photo by How Hwee Young/EPA
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un may have ordered cyberattacks against banks in dozens of countries, according to a U.S. cybersecurity firm. File Photo by How Hwee Young/EPA

May 10 (UPI) -- North Korea's cyberattacks have targeted banks in at least 30 countries since 2015, according to a Japanese television network.

NHK quoted a report from U.S. firm Symantec that stated the Kim Jong Un regime has developed methods to breach financial institutions in countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam.

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Funds procured from bank theft is probably being used to finance North Korea's nuclear and missile development, according to the report.

In April, a Russian cybersecurity firm had claimed North Korea was linked to cyberattacks on financial institutions in 18 countries.

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Hackers were traced to North Korea, after Kaspersky detected a mistake, and a hacker from a group operation known as "Lazarus" connected from North Korea.

The NHK report expanded the number of countries where banks were hacked, and provided some previously unreported details on how the attacks were conducted.

In the case of the central bank of Bangladesh, North Korean hackers would send phishing emails containing malicious codes to bank employees.

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The virus would compromise the bank's security system. North Korea managed to transfer $81 million from the bank to an account in the Philippines in a fraudulent transaction.

The same malicious code was found in a cyberattack against a bank in Vietnam, when $1 million was stolen, and during the hacking of Sony Pictures, according to NHK.

As more sanctions have been placed against North Korea for its pursuit of nuclear weapons, the regime has been finding innovative ways to circumvent regulations.

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North Korea may have used electronics and shipping companies, for example, to transfer millions of dollars. The state also established front companies as subsidiaries in China and Malaysia, according to CNN.

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