United Nations Investigating N Korean Cyber Attacks

The United Nations is now investigating 30 North Korean cyber-attacks against 17 different countries. North Koreans the UN says is using cyber-attacks to raise money for weapons of mass destruction programmes. Now the UN is calling for sanctions against ships providing petrol and diesel on route to N. Korea.

Recently, The Associated Press quoted a report from the cyber security specialist firm FireEye which said that North Korea stole as much as US $2.77 billion using cyber-attacks on banks and finance organisations. 

The Report suggest that S. Korea was the hit hardest by ten attacks, India had three, Bangladesh and Chile were hit by three attacks and another 13 countries were hit at least once Costa Rica, Gambia, Guatemala, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Nigeria, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Tunisia and Vietnam.

The Report says there are three main ways that North Korean hackers operate:

  • Attacks through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication or Swift system used to transfer money between banks, "with bank employee computers and infrastructure accessed to send fraudulent messages and destroy evidence".
  • Theft of crypto-currency "through attacks on both exchanges and users".
  • "Mining" of crypto-currency as a source of funds for a professional branch of the military".
  • The FireEye experts say that these increasingly sophisticated attacks "is low risk and high yield", often requiring just a laptop computer and access to the Internet.

The report to the UN Security Council provides details on some of the North Korean cyber-attacks as well as the country's successful efforts to evade sanctions on coal exports in addition to imports of refined petroleum products and luxury items including Mercedes-Benz S-600 cars.

One Mercedes Maybach S-Class limousine and other S-600s, as well as a Toyota Land Cruiser, were transferred from North Korea to Vietnam for last February's summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump. 
The panel recommended sanctions against six North Korean vessels for evading sanctions and illegally carrying out ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum products. 

Under UN sanctions, North Korea is limited to importing 500,000 barrels of such products annually including petrol and diesel. The United States and 25 other countries said North Korea exceeded the limit in the first four months of this year.

The panel also recommended sanctions against the captain, owner and parent company of the North Korean-flagged Wise Honest, which was detained by Indonesia in April last year with an illegal shipment of coal.

The experts said North Korean cyber actors have been targeting crypto-currency exchanges in South Korea, some repeatedly.

Straits Times

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