The US Department of Justice has accused three members of “Lazarus” of a DPKR-sponsored hacker cell that, since its inception, has allegedly stolen more than a billion dollars – much of it into bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies Was and was obtained through various cyber campaigns. The DOJ has called the group “a criminal syndicate with a flag” for its role in a mixture of government espionage and criminal activity.
At the unveiling on Wednesday, federal officials named John Chang Hyok, Kim Il, and Park Jin Hyok as members of the group. The men are part of a North Korean military intelligence unit, the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), who “knowingly and deliberately conspired with each other, and with known and unknown individuals” to form the hacker group “Lazarus” Huh.
While the hacker trio are accused of a number of crimes, the fact that they are the most inhabited in North Korea means extradition and prosecution are probably impossible. One of the hackers, Jin Hyok, had already been indicted by the US in 2018 for his role in Sony Hack, as well as in 2018 for the 2017 global WannaCry ransomware outbreak.
The Feds also accused 37-year-old Ghalib Aloumari of Mississauga, Ontario, of acting as a longtime money launder for Lazarus.
Here is a list of the crimes of hackers recorded in Wednesday’s indictment: These include the infamous 2014 Sony hack, conducted after a studio-released interview (Seth Rogan in which the fictional Kim Jong-un was murdered by the CIA); Ongoing spear-phishing operations against American defense companies and employees; I want to cry; And the theft of millions of dollars from banks, financial firms and crypto companies worldwide. The indictment reads:
The conspirators hacked the victims ‘computers to steal, steal data and money and otherwise pursue the strategic and financial interests of the DPRK government and its leader, Kim Jong Un … The hackers’ victims and intended victims included entertainment companies , Financial institutions, cryptocurrency companies (including cryptocurrency exchanges, merchants and markets), online casinos, defense contractors, energy utilities and approved individuals.
One of the most notable criminal activities highlighted in the indictment is its ongoing digital robbery campaign. Over the past several years, Lazarus has explicitly targeted hundreds of cryptocurrency companies and financial services firms worldwide, exploiting victims through backdoor and other malicious strategies, and in the process caused tens of millions of dollars in damages is. The group has reportedly hacked into banks around the world.
It would be easy to see Lazarus’ exploits as merely corrupt, out-of-control government bureaucrats. But this offense is not just for kicks. Rather, it is a cash-strapped strategic imperative for the Third World that has been cut off financially from most parts of the world through sanctions and other sanctions. The US says the North Korean regime uses loot from its hackers’ digital robberies to fund many of the regime’s illegal activities, including its illegal nuclear weapons program.
“As in today’s indictment, North Korean operatives are robbers of the world’s leading banks, using keyboards instead of guns, stealing digital purses of cryptocurrencies instead of cash sacks,” said Assistant Attorney General John That the Department of Justice’s National’s Dimmers Security Division.
John John Hultquist of cyber firm FireEye’s Mandiant Threat Intelligence, similarly said that North Korea “relies on various cyber schemes to finance the regime,” partly due to the incredible pressure exerted by outside forces.
This may sound unusual, but in many ways, a mix of government state espionage and large-scale criminal activities is not uncommon for hacker groups. Many state-sponsored threat actors engage in crime, often for the same reasons as Lazarus: that is, to supplement the group’s own income or to satisfy the state’s strategic interests. Other examples have been seen in China, Russia and Iran.
According to a UN report by the Associated Press and CNN, North Korean hackers stole more than $ 300 million last year to boost the country’s drifting economy and fund leader Kim Jong Un’s nuclear ambitions.
CNN reported that a panel of experts from North Korea compiled the report and recommended further sanctions against the country for violating international law in its quest to become nuclear power.
An anonymous UN member country reported that North Korean hackers stole $ 316.4 million in virtual property between 2019 and November 2020, according to the CNN report.