Bitcoin is the most valuable cryptocurrency of all times. The first cryptocurrency has always been leading the pack of altcoins, irrespective of how low or high its price has fluctuated. At the same time, the universal decentralized nature of Bitcoin makes it an ideal asset for people, irrespective of their geographical location. This very feature could have driven North Korean hackers to steal the digital currency from their neighboring country during 2013 and 2015.
According to the South Korean news outlet — Yonhap News Agency, the country’s cryptocurrency exchanges were continuously drained out of about $88,000 equivalent to 100 million Korean won in Bitcoin on a monthly basis. The alleged involvement of North Korean hackers was mentioned to the media by Choi Sang-myong, a senior official at Hauri Inc., a cyber security firm.
Choi doesn’t dwell too deep into how the hackers managed to steal millions of dollars’ worth of Bitcoin. However, it is all said to have started after South Korea decided to shut down operations at a joint industrial zone at Kaesong — one of North Korean border city back in 2013. He was quoted by the media outlet saying,
“After that, they were confirmed to have secured more than 100 million won in bitcoin every month… Cyber criminals have turned to bitcoin for money as it is very difficult to track them down. Since tracking down the culprits is very difficult, North Korea had jumped on the bandwagon of bitcoin extortion since around 2012.”
The alleged involvement of North Korea in hacking incidents is not a new thing. Among these events include a recent theft of money from the accounts belonging to the Central Bank of Bangladesh. As hackers continue to look for green pastures to make a quick buck, the interest in Bitcoin among them is said to have waned in the past couple of years.
It is not sure whether the hackers in question are individuals acting in their own capacity or state-sponsored actors. But, in the current sanctions riddled situation, North Korea may as well be exploring other alternative options for conducting cross-border transactions.
However, with the latest blockchain analysis tools, it shouldn’t be hard to find out if North Korea is indeed indulged in the use of Bitcoin for domestic and international transactions.