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North Korea could target Southeast Asia's vulnerable crypto sector, says defense think tank

North Korea could target Southeast Asia's vulnerable crypto sector, says defense think tank (Geopolitical, Terrorism)

"North Korea has gone to extremes to raise funds and evade international sanctions, recently expanding these efforts to include the exploitation of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin," David Carlisle, a former official at the U.S. Treasury department's office of terrorism and financial intelligence, and Kayla Izenman, a financial crime and terrorist finance expert, wrote in the report. "As a determined and sophisticated cyber actor in need of financial resources, North Korea is likely to continue to find ways of obtaining and exploiting cryptocurrencies," they said in their report, "Closing the Gap: Guidance for Countering North Korean Cryptocurrency Activity in Southeast Asia." The WannaCry attack "signaled North Korea's interest in, and ability to exploit, cryptocurrencies," they said. Southeast Asia's growing virtual asset sector and lack of coordinated regulation present what Carlisle and Izenman called a "systemic risk" vulnerable to exploitation by North Korea, which they stressed has long used its countries to mitigate sanctions.

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