North Korea is reportedly expanding its cryptocurrency mining operation to generate revenue and avoid sanctions, producing a tenfold increase over the past 90 days.
According to a report by threat intelligence company Recorded Future, North Korea uses three tactics to generate revenue via the internet: exploiting cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, online banking crimes and low-level information technology breaches.
North Korea is suspected of hacking South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges, as well as engaging in cryptojacking and cryptocurrency mining.
The report concludes that North Korea has targeted three popular cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Litecoin and Monero.
“In October 2018, North Korean Monero mining activity was similar in both traffic volume and rate of communication with peers to the Bitcoin mining mentioned above.
By our assessment, as of November 2019, we have observed at least a tenfold increase in Monero mining activity. We are unable to determine the hash rate because all of the activity is proxied through one IP address, which we believe hosts at least several unknown machines behind it.”
The researchers suggest that North Korea’s strategies may serve as a playbook for other countries in financial isolation that are seeking to circumvent US sanctions by using the internet, such as Venezuela, Iran or Syria.
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