North Koreans Study Bitcoin

North Korean engagement with bitcoin and crypto-currency appears to be growing, with recent reports indicating that university students are now able to access courses on cryptocurrency.

Reports indicate that Pyongyang University (pictured) which is perceived to be the breeding ground for North Korea’s hackers by much of the international community, is now offering courses on crypto-currencies.

Despite mounting accusations that the North Korean administration has been actively stealing and mining bitcoins, the existence of the course is being cited as “the first hard evidence” of North Korea’s increasing fascination with crypto-currency by media. 

Priscilla Moriuchi, director of strategic threat development at CIA and Google-backed security intelligence firm, Recorded Future, has stated that, “There should be no mistaking this course as a benevolent academic exchange; everything in North Korea is carefully evaluated and managed by the regime.”

Earlier this month, Federico Tenga, founder of bitcoin startup, Chainside, visited Pyongyang with the purpose of teaching over three dozen of the country’s top students about bitcoin and blockchain technology. The visit was arranged after Tenga contacted the sole foreign-funded school in North Korea, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, offering to give a presentation on bitcoin at an upcoming finance conference scheduled to take place on the campus. 

The conference, however, was canceled following President Donald Trump’s ban on US citizens traveling to the Hermit Kingdom, leading to Pyongyang University contacting Mr. Tenga to invite him to teach the crypto-currency course on campus.
Mr. Tenga spent a week in total at Pyongyang University, delivering five 90 minute lectures to a group of approximately 40 students aged between 20 and 25. Mr. Tenga also gave an additional seminar to the university’s faculty members.
Mr. Tenga reported that although most students spoke excellent English, were knowledgeable of the world outside of North Korea’s borders and had independently heard of bitcoin, their understanding of bitcoin’s fundamentals such as the processes underpinning mining and trading was extremely lacking coming into the course. Surprising many, Mr. Tenga returned from North Korea skeptical of the regime’s cryptocurrency capabilities. 

Contradicting a July report by Recorded Future that claimed that bitcoin mining is taking place in North Korea, Mr. Tenga stated his skepticism surrounding the suggestion that the Hermit Kingdom is engaging in bitcoin mining. “I was running a full bitcoin node while I was there, so maybe people monitoring North Korean Internet think that somebody was mining that way, but I wasn’t,” Tenga said.

Recorded Future have responded to Mr. Tenga’s assertions, with Priscilla Moriuchi stating that “The university was allowed to offer this course, bring in a foreign expert, and educate North Korean students because the government and senior leaders realised the value of bitcoin and cryptocurrency as a generator of funds for the regime and allowed it.” Whilst the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology has not discussed its cryptocurrency course with western media, a university spokesman has told NK News, “Our teaching is intended to assist the DPRK by building capacity that enables effective development and benefits for the people of the DPRK… We are acutely aware of sanctions issues and the risks of misuse or misappropriation of resources and know-how and take care to avoid any sensitive or proscribed areas.”

Earlier this year, US cybersecurity firm, Fireeye, accused North Korea of using spear phishing and dispersed malware to attack three South Korean crypto-currency exchanges. 

Luke McNamara of Fireeye has told media that economic sanctions were presumed to be the dominant motivation behind North Korean engagement with crypto-currency, stating that the regime “probably sees it as a very low-cost solution to bring in hard cash.”

Bitcoin.com:

You Might Also Read:

Here Comes China’s Crypto-Currency:

N Korea Targets S Korea’s Bitcoin Exchange:

Would Killing Bitcoin End Ransomware?:

 

« China Intends To Be An AI Superpower
More Businesses Could Use Machine Learning »

Perimeter 81

Directory of Suppliers

IT Governance

IT Governance

IT Governance is a leading global provider of information security solutions. Download our free guide and find out how ISO 27001 can help protect your organisation's information.

WEBINAR: How to fuel your DevSecOps in AWS

WEBINAR: How to fuel your DevSecOps in AWS

Thursday, May 20, 2021 - In this webinar, SANS and AWS Marketplace will discuss how to build a strategy that encompasses visibility and automation for the DevSecOps pipeline in AWS.

ZenGRC

ZenGRC

ZenGRC - the first, easy-to-use, enterprise-grade information security solution for compliance and risk management - offers businesses efficient control tracking, testing, and enforcement.

Practice Labs

Practice Labs

Practice Labs is an IT competency hub, where live-lab environments give access to real equipment for hands-on practice of essential cybersecurity skills.

Jooble

Jooble

Jooble is a job search aggregator operating in 71 countries worldwide. We simplify the job search process by displaying active job ads from major job boards and career sites across the internet.

XYPRO Technology

XYPRO Technology

XYPRO is the market leader in HPE Non-Stop Security, Risk Management and Compliance.

eBook: Practical Guide to Security in the AWS Cloud

eBook: Practical Guide to Security in the AWS Cloud

AWS Marketplace would like to present you with a digital copy of the new book, Practical Guide to Security in the AWS Cloud, by the SANS Institute.

BackupVault

BackupVault

BackupVault is a leading provider of completely automatic, fully encrypted online, cloud backup.

CYRIN

CYRIN

CYRIN® Cyber Range. Real Tools, Real Attacks, Real Scenarios. See why leading educational institutions and companies in the U.S. have begun to adopt the CYRIN® system.

DigitalStakeout

DigitalStakeout

A simple and cost-effective solution to monitor, investigate and analyze data from the web, social media and cyber sources to identify threats and make better security decisions.

Logscape

Logscape

Logscape provides a big data analytical tool for log file analysis and operational analytics.

Dark Cubed

Dark Cubed

Dark Cubed is an easy-to-use cyber security software as a service (SaaS) platform that deploys instantly and delivers enterprise-grade threat identification and protection at a fraction of the cost.

GreenWorld Technologies

GreenWorld Technologies

GreenWorld has a proven track record in industry leading IT asset management, secure data destruction and remarketing.

Level39 (L39)

Level39 (L39)

Level39 is the world's most connected tech community, with over 200 tech startups and scaleups based onsite.

Netacea

Netacea

Netacea provides a revolutionary bot management solution that protects websites, mobile apps and APIs from malicious attacks such as scraping, credential stuffing and account takeover.

CYSEC SA

CYSEC SA

Cysec is equipped to deliver agile security solutions for the most challenging IT infrastructures around the world.

Arkphire

Arkphire

Arkphire provide solutions across every aspect of IT to help your business perform better.