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Security firm: North Korean hackers shifted focus from causing chaos to acquiring money

By
Yonhap News Agency
Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab in Moscow said North Korean hackers have shifted their focus from causing chaos and stealing government documents to trying to acquire hard currency. Photo by Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA
Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab in Moscow said North Korean hackers have shifted their focus from causing chaos and stealing government documents to trying to acquire hard currency. Photo by Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA

SEOUL, May 23 (UPI) -- A group of suspected North Korean hackers seem to have shifted their focus to earning hard currency for the impoverished country since 2016, a global cybersecurity firm said Thursday.

In the past, hacking attempts by allegedly Pyongyang-sponsored cybercrime group Lazarus were largely intended to cause chaos or steal classified government and military documents, according to Russia-based cybersecurity and anti-virus provider Kaspersky Lab.

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The hackers, however, have increasingly aimed their online hacking capabilities against financial institutions and banks since 2016 to shift their focus to acquiring foreign currency, it said.

Lazarus was suspected of being responsible for the US$81 million cyber attack on the Bangladesh central bank in 2016. The group is also suspected of being linked to the global WannaCry ransomware cyber attack in 2017 that infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries.

In addition, Lazarus has increasingly orchestrated efforts to hack into computers of cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea by evolving its tactics, Kaspersky Lab said.

The cybersecurity firm said North Korea has faced toughened international sanctions since 2016.

The U.N. Security Council adopted resolutions 2270 and 2321, aimed at cutting off North Korea's foreign currency income, which is believed to fund its nuclear weapons development.

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North Korea has denied any involvement in cyber attacks.

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