By CCN Markets: North Korea (DPRK) is sniffing out angry flames after getting accused of siphoning $2 billion from banks and bitcoin exchanges.
The communist state denied having any links with the high-profile thefts. Its state-run news agency KCNA stated that the United States and their allies are spreading “ill-hearted” lies. The media firm cited a statement from the spokesperson for the National Coordination Committee of the DPRK, stating:
“Such a fabrication by the hostile forces is nothing but a sort of a nasty game aimed at tarnishing the image of our Republic and finding justification for sanctions and pressure campaign against the DPRK.”
A United Nations report last month said Pyongyang had launched “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” online attacks on banks and cryptocurrency exchanges. The hermit kingdom allegedly amassed $2 billion to fund its weapon of mass destruction programs. The report added that the country’s intelligence agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, supervised the said cyberattacks.
North Korea’s denial comes almost two weeks after it criticized the US and South Korea for making continuous “military threats” against the communist state. The statements dispirited growing expectations for a quick resolution of talks on denuclearization, which arose specifically after South Korea’s national security adviser, Kim Hyun-Chong met with his US counterpart Stephen Biegun in Seoul. Hyun-Chong confirmed Pyangyong would restart denuclearization talks soon.
The bureaucratic efforts are, nevertheless, coming to a halt as both sides continue to show-off their missile muscles. Pentagon in August tested a ground-launched cruise missile for the first time since the US withdrew itself from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. On the other hand, Pyongyang has carried out a string of missile and weapon tests since Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un met in June – indicating that the summits have not reached a peaceful resolution.
Washington’s concerns are about how North Korea is receiving funds to fund its missile programs despite being subjected to heavy sanctions. The UN believes the communist country has initiated 35 attacks across 17 countries, with a particular focus on raking in bitcoin, a cryptocurrency that flows across nations via an independent financial pipeline.
Additional evidence gathered by cybersecurity firm FireEye gives a similar picture. The Californian-based cyber investigation company said that a criminal outfit, known as ‘Lazarus Group,’ has spied on the affected banks and bitcoin exchanges, if not hacked them. FireEye ruled out that the North Korea regime backed the rogued actors.
Raymond Lockey, Former Special Advisor to Office of the President and Liaison to US Congress, believes that North Korea also gather funding from China and Russia.
“North Korea works through small “front” companies some owned by private foreign trading partners to move currency and bartered goods,” said Lockey in a public forum.
“It trades with Iran and Venezuela for crude oil using the animus of both regimes against the US to its benefit. It’s overseas restaurants, laborers, counterfeit US dollars, drug smuggling and cyber hacking of bank accounts to engage in illegal activities generate illicit profits. It uses diplomatic pouches to move money and drugs.”