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North Korea continues to hack computers to mine cryptocurrency

By Wooyoung Lee
North Korea continues to hack computers to mine cryptocurrency
Live cryptocurrency market values are displayed on a computer screen. Photo by Dave Hunt/EPA-EFE

SEOUL, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- North Korea is hacking computers to mine cryptocurrency to bring extra cash into the country, according to South Korea's intelligence service.

North Korean hackers also continue to hack computers in South Korea and abroad to steal confidential information, the state intelligence agency said in a parliamentary audit on Wednesday, Yonhap News reported.

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A U.S. cybersecurity firm revealed in January that it found computers installed with malware, suspected to have been implanted by North Korean hackers, to mine for cryptocurrency Monero and send it to Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, according to Chosun Ilbo.

Cryptocurrency has emerged as an alternative source of money for the cash-strapped North Korean regime amid tightening international sanctions.

The National Intelligence Service also detected that North Korea is preparing for a visit by international nuclear experts, who will examine its Punggyeri nuclear test site. The country invited international journalists to witness the dismantlement of the nuclear test site in May, which it said was a major step toward denuclearization.

In a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said it will invite nuclear experts to examine the dismantled nuclear test facility.

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"We have learned that North Korea is preparing for a visit by the international inspection team and conducting related activities," an intelligence officer was quoted as saying in a press briefing by a lawmaker of the Democratic Party of Korea.

"We've been eyeing major nuclear and missile development facilities but haven't found anything notable yet," it added.

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