North Korea recently came out to defend itself against the allegations that they had been making use of state-sponsored hackers to steal various amounts of cryptocurrency from exchanges and wallets around the world in order to fund its nuclear weapons program following sanctions by other world governments. Their defense was that these allegations were being brought up by the United States in a bid to discredit them and antagonize them.
“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,” their defense said
North Korea‘s defense of itself has not proven very effective, however, as it was reported on September 13, 2019, that the United States treasury department has announced further sanctions on three hacker groups they claim are sponsored by the North Korean government in retaliation for their illegal activities.
The sanctions have been placed against three different hacker groups which are called Lazarus, Bluenoroff and Andariel which are allegedly part of the governments’ efforts to raise funds for their nuclear programs and it was also reported that a lot of these efforts are directly targeted at South Korea.
“Treasury is taking action against North Korean hacking groups that have been perpetrating cyberattacks to support illicit weapon and missile programs. […] We will continue to enforce existing U.S. and UN sanctions against North Korea and work with the international community to improve cybersecurity of financial networks,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
These efforts taken by North Korea have proven to be quite profitable as it is estimated that they have made about $2 billion from hacking banks and cryptocurrency exchanges and according to the United States security council North Korea sanctions committee, they show no signs of stopping in the near future.
“Democratic People’s Republic of Korea cyber actors, many operating under the direction of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, raise money for its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) programs, with total proceeds to date estimated at up to two billion US dollars,” the report said.