North Korean Hackers Want in on the Bitcoin Boom Too

By Tom Pritchard on at

By this stage I bet even your computer-phobic relatives, who only get their news from the local paper, have heard of Bitcoin. The value of a single coin has just passed $19,000, with people even going so far as to remortgage their homes to get in on the crypto currency's sudden surge in popularity. Even North Korea wants in, though as usual it's not playing by the rules.

According to a report from Secureworks, the North Korean government-affiliated Lazarus Group has been engaged in a massive spearphishing campaign in order to try and compromise the computers of people working within the cryptocurrency industry. The attacks take the form of a word document, claiming the user will need to enable editing to see it. While staff are looking at the document, a trojan is secretly installed to hijack the machine.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out why the hackers are up to this. The Lazarus Group has been linked to a number of criminal activities over the years, including the WannaCry ransomware that temporarily crippled the NHS's computer systems, threatening to leak the latest Pirates of the Carribean film, and somehow managing to steal $81 million (£60.6 million) from a Bangladeshi bank. Seeing as how trade sanctions make it hard for North Korea to make money, having a team of hackers around to steal it would be very handy.

It also makes me wonder whether North Korea could theoretically sell any stolen Bitcoin assets, then steal them back from the buyer. Like how some Grand Theft Auto games would supposedly let you murder prostitutes to get all your money back. Just an idea.

The idea of stealing Bitcoin isn't new, however, with Secureworks noting that this sort of activity dates back to last year. Plus with attacks popping up as recently as last month, and with Bitcoin's ever-rising price, it's unlikely that they'll be stopping anytime soon. [Reuters via Engadget]

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