It can be unarguably stated that North Korea and cybercrime go hand in hand. The nation is highly focused on reinforcing its cyber capabilities, by all means necessary, and creating more than just a nuisance.
The CrowdStrike 2021 Global Threat Report tracked the activities of all five DPRK threat actors - LABYRINTH CHOLLIMA, STARDUST CHOLLIMA, SILENT CHOLLIMA, VELVET CHOLLIMA, and RICOCHET CHOLLIMA. The campaigns have been primarily conducted against South Korea, Japan, Europe, and North America for the purpose of collecting intelligence and financial benefits. Furthermore, as the nation is currently suffering from an economic crisis and food shortages, experts anticipate a rise in cyberattacks from North Korea.
The U.S. Department of Justice indicted three North Korean individuals with criminal conspiracy and extortion of more than $1.3 billion in cryptocurrency from financial institutions. What can be the reason for this unchecked criminal activity? The indictment details that the ruthless regime is economically fragile and undergoing food shortages. Their hacking activities have been categorized into 44 distinct overt acts, which include attacks on the entertainment industry, bank heists, ATM cash-out thefts, cyber-enabled extortion, creation and delivery of malicious cryptominers, and spear-phishing campaigns.
How does it do it?
- North Korean attackers are lured by the size of the cybercrime market and lack of adequate security.
- Moreover, operations carried out by the nation are not very risky and expensive and yet can be advantageous.
- The most important fact that should be considered is that North Korea has immensely enhanced its cyber capabilities and is good at seeking out digital vulnerabilities to launch attacks and extort finances.
Some stats your way
- Last year in May, at least 100 highly qualified science and technology university graduates were enlisted into the country’s military forces to supervise tactical planning systems.
- Mirim College, also known as the University of Automation, produces 100 hackers on an annual basis.
- However, North Korea is not playing alone. According to a U.S. Army report, the country hires around 6,000 cyber agents across the word in four intelligence organizations. One of the most infamous among these organizations is Lazarus.
The bottom line
This small nation is dedicated to developing its cyber strength and leveling the game field with cyber threats posed by the larger powers. While new cyber groups are being unveiled on a regular basis, with individuals being charged for their crimes, North Korea is not going to stop any time soon. Although it is crucial to stay safe against these cyber threats, it is more even important now that the training of cyber agents is disrupted.