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$571 Mn In Cryptocurrency Stolen By North Korean Hacker Group

The Lazarus cybercrime group launched a highly sophisticated Bitcoin-stealing phishing campaign -- HaoBao -- which targeted global financial organisations and Bitcoin users.

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Although fears of a blanket block on services have not materialized, industry experts say VPN connections often face outages Pixabay

Amid growing crypto-jacking episodes, a North Korean hacking group called Lazarus has stolen cryptocurrencies worth more than half a billion dollars.

According to The Next Web that cited findings from the annual report of cybersecurity vendor Group-IB late on Friday, Lazarus was behind 14 hacking attacks on cryptocurrent exchanges since January 2017 — stealing $571 million.

Lazarus is a hacking group which has been linked to a string of attacks against everything from banks to government agencies across the world.

Hackers targeted cryptocurrency exchanges with spear phishing, social engineering, and malware.

Cryptocurrency
Experts: Cyber attacks Growing Increasingly Sophisticated. Pixabay

“Spear phishing remains the major vector of attack on corporate networks. For instance, fraudsters deliver malware under the cover of CV spam [with an attachment] that has a malware embedded in the document,” the findings showed.

Group-IB expects the number of targeted attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges to rise, and not just the ones from Lazarus.

Nearly 10 per cent of the total funds raised by Initial Coin Offering (ICO) platforms over the past year and a half have been stolen.

According to the report, large phishing groups are capable of stealing $1 million a month.

Fraudsters are even building fake websites using stolen cryptocurrency project descriptions and plagiarized white papers.

bitcoin-, Cryptocurrency
You cannot expect to rush into cryptocurrency trading and think you will make a huge
investment worth millions. Pixabay

“Fraudulent phishing-schemes involving crypto-brands will only get more complex as well as cybercriminals’ level of preparation for phishing attacks,” the group warned.

Security researchers have claimed that North Korea-based advanced persistent threat (APT) groups are increasingly attacking financial institutions and Bitcoin exchanges.

There were on average five new threat samples every second that resulted in a massive 629 per cent growth in cryptojacking and other cryptocurrency mining malware in the first quarter of 2018.

The coin miner malware grew a stunning 629 per cent to 2.9 million in the first quarter of 2018, from around 400,000 total known samples in Q4 2017, said a recent report from global cyber security firm McAfee.

Also Read: Is Investing in Bitcoin Safe? Get The Basics First

The Lazarus cybercrime group launched a highly sophisticated Bitcoin-stealing phishing campaign — HaoBao — which targeted global financial organisations and Bitcoin users.

When recipients open malicious email attachments, an implant would scan for Bitcoin activity and establishes an implant for persistent data gathering and crypto mining. (IANS)

Next Story

North Korea Bans Imports of Chinese Pork on Fears of African Swine Fever Epidemic

“North Koreans prefer Chinese pork to domestically produced pork, because it has thicker layers of meat and fat,” said the source

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chinese pork, african swine fever
The import ban seems to have had no effect on the price of pork, making the source believe that Chinese pork is still getting in. Wikimedia Commons

North Korean authorities have banned imports of Chinese pork as an African swine fever (ASF) epidemic rages north of the Yalu River border between the two countries.

According to the latest update from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, China has seen 138 ASF outbreaks since August 2018 and more than a million pigs have been culled since the initial outbreak in Liaoning province, which borders North Korea.

North Korea’s ministry of agriculture confirmed the country’s first ASF outbreak in Chagang province on May 23 and South Korea’s ministry of unification has proposed discussions on how the two Koreas can work together to stop the further spread of the disease.

But RFA sources in North Korea say Chinese pork is still being sold in local markets. “A few days ago I heard from a customs official that North Korea has completely blocked all imports of pork and beef from China to prevent the spread of African swine fever,” said a source from North Hamgyong province in an interview with RFA’s Korean Service on June 2.

chinese pork, african swine fever
Pigs stand in a barn at a pig farm in Jiangjiaqiao village in northern China’s Hebei province on May 8, 2019. Pork lovers worldwide are wincing at prices that have jumped by up to 40 percent as China’s struggle to stamp out African swine fever in its vast pig herds sends shockwaves through global meat markets. RFA

“North Koreans prefer Chinese pork to domestically produced pork, because it has thicker layers of meat and fat,” said the source. “I heard that in some areas, including Pyongyang and Sinuiju, they are trying to control pork sales, but no action has been taken yet in North Hamgyong,” said the source. The source said that the ban is quite rare, especially since diseases among livestock are common during this part of the year.

“There have been infectious swine diseases in the past, but they never banned the import of pork from China. At this time of year, we are usually hit with infectious swine diseases and many pigs are culled, but none of the residents bury the dead pigs,” the source said. The import ban seems to have had no effect on the price of pork, making the source believe that Chinese pork is still getting in.

“The price of pork is between 14 and 15 Chinese Yuan (slightly more than $2) per kilogram, which is the same as before the authorities banned Chinese pork. Even though customs authorities are blocking pork imports from China, there is so much pork being smuggled in,” the source said. Another source, also from North Hamgyong, said the ban is strange, given that North Korean customs officials generally follow the lead of their Chinese counterparts.

“On the first of the month, pork that was to be brought in from China was quarantined at North Korean customs and sent back. It is unusual for our customs office to block this pork shipment because it didn’t have any problem going through Chinese customs,” said the second source.

“That [particular] pork shipment was to be brought in by a Chinese citizen of Korean descent who is a restaurant owner in Rason,” the second source said. “He thought there would be no problem going through customs because he regularly brings in pork from China. But the Wonjong customs office did not let it pass through on orders from the Central Committee,” the second source said.

chinese pork, african swine fever
“North Koreans prefer Chinese pork to domestically produced pork, because it has thicker layers of meat and fat,” said the source. Wikimedia Commons

The second source said the restaurant owner was surprised his shipment was held back. “He has had no problem bringing in pork from China for several years now. Even when swine fever [started] spreading in China, he kept bringing it in. It’s the first time he has been stopped and he’s totally bewildered,” the second source said.

The second source said that the price of pork remains stable despite the ban, and no cases of ASF have been reported in Rason. Even so, residents have become fearful of the disease.

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“[They think] African swine fever is highly contagious and has a fatality rate of 100%, but Chinese pork is still being sold at the local markets and no restrictions have been announced,” said the second source. According to a USDA fact sheet, ASF is deadly only to domestic and feral pigs and does not affect humans. People can, however, spread the virus by coming in contact with the bodily fluids of infected livestock.

According to a source in South Pyongan province, North Korea has not culled pigs in any of its state-run farms where an ASF outbreak has occurred. The pigs instead were supplied to sausage factories at low cost. This has caused a flood of sausages to enter the market, cutting the price of sausage in half. (RFA)

Reported by Jieun Kim for RFA’s Korean Service. Translated by Leejin Jun. Written in English by Eugene Whong.