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Post: UN report: Hackers for Kim’s nuclear program


An internal UN report describes how North Korean hackers stole millions to fund Kim Jong Un’s nuclear program. 2022 has therefore been a “record year”.

According to the United Nations, North Korea has stolen more money from cybercrime last year than ever before. Some estimates suggest that at least $630 million, or even $1 billion, was stolen from the internet.

According to a previously classified UN expert report available to the German Press Agency and Reuters news agency, this marks “2022 as a record year for the theft of virtual assets in North Korea.”

1.2 billion euros in six years

In the past six years, government hackers are said to have seized a total of about $1.2 billion online. The money, often anonymously invested in cryptocurrency, is then used by the heavily sanctioned country to fund the nuclear and missile programs that ruler Kim Jong Un has recently advanced.

Meanwhile, UN experts see “significant momentum” again in Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. Stockpiles of fissile material were rising, reflecting the new North Korean nuclear policies and a series of missile launches.

Kim Jong Un pushes nuclear program

Earlier this year, Kim announced that his country’s nuclear arsenal was growing exponentially, further escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The UN reported last year that North Korea was preparing for its first nuclear test since 2017. Recently, construction work has continued at the Punggye-ri underground nuclear test facility in the north of the country.

According to the UN report, in 2022, Pyongyang fired at least 73 ballistic missiles in violation of UN Security Council resolutions – 42 of them in the last four months of the year. Among them was the test of a new type of solid propellant rocket.

Target cryptocurrencies

State hacker group Lazarus and its subgroups are blamed, among others, for North Korea’s cyberattacks. Attacks targeting cryptocurrency markets and increasingly sophisticated ransomware attacks have been observed.

In so-called ransomware attacks, attackers infiltrate systems, gain control and lock down victims. The data is usually encrypted and only becomes accessible again after the ransom has been paid.

Difficult Relationships

With its missile tests and nuclear program, Kim Jong Un wants to increase the pressure on the world community to lift the sanctions against his country. At the same time, diplomatic relations with the United States have been severed since Kim’s unsuccessful second summit with former US President Donald Trump in February 2019.

In May, the US failed at the UN Security Council, which proposed stricter international sanctions against Pyongyang. Russia and China vetoed the vote in New York.

Source: ZDF

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