On Monday, a confidential U.N. report stated that North Korea has earned as much as $2 billion dollars through the medium of large-scale cyber attacks to benefit fund its efficient weapons program. The report, submitted to the U.N. North Korea Sanctions Committee, has accused North Korea of making use off hackers to take out ‘forced illegal transfer of funds from various financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges, launders stolen proceeds and formed income to prevent international sanctions.’
A report by compliance monitoring independent professionals was also submitted to the U.N. Security Council North Korea Sanctions Committee, which mentioned that Pyongyang continued to boost its nuclear and missile programs although it did you conduct a nuclear test or ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) launch.
Professionals have moreover mentioned that North Korea has invested tons of resources in creating a sophisticated array of cyber capabilities and a sturdy network of hackers who have previous evaded United Nations and the US Sanctions. According to these reports, there have been at least 35 reported instances of North Korea actors attacking cryptocurrency exchanges, financial institutions and mining activities to earn foreign currency for their operations which are also difficult to trace due to less government oversight and regulation.
With the motive to choke Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile funding, Security council has imposed certain sanctions by banning the export of lead, iron, coal, seafood, textiles and also capped imports of refined petroleum products and crude oil. Getting these sanctions lifted has been very vital for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during his negotiations with the United States President Donald Trump but both sides have made only tiny progress in finding a middle ground.
The Trump administration has mentioned that they would not remove restrictions until they could verify if North Korea has given up nuclear operations. But the U.N. experts have mentioned that there are still ‘continued violations’ of the U.N. Sanctions. They have violated through the means of the ongoing ship-to-ship transfers and obtaining of WMD-related products and luxury items. The experts have said that observed ‘new evasion methods’ for such kinds of transfers including feeder vessels with the use of Class B Automatic Identification Systems and various transfers with the use of smaller vessels.
In retaliation, the Foreign Minister of North Korea has mentioned that “The United States and the South Korean authorities are still outwardly talkative about dialogue. But when they sit back, they sharpen their sword to do us harm in any way possible”. They have also released a statement detailing “We have warned numerous times that the joint military exercise would definitely block the progress in DPRK-US relations and the inter-Korean relations which would force them to reconsider their earlier major steps”.
Over the past time, there have been other accusations on North Korea where South Korea has said that North Korea has hacked into their computers for unauthorized crypto mining activities. In September 2018, a North Korean was charged for hacking in Sony Pictures Entertainment’s server. It has also been reported that North Korean hackers have stolen nearly $88,000 worth of bitcoin between the year of 2013 and 2015.