The US justice department has accused 3 North Korean military intelligence officials of a campaign of cyberattacks to steal $1.3 billion in crypto and traditional currencies from banks and other victims.
One among the trio has also been charged with hacking Sony Pictures in 2014.
According to the report, the accused led the creation of malicious cryptocurrency applications, opening backdoors into victim computers, hacking into companies, trading digital currencies like Bitcoin, developing a blockchain platform to evade sanctions, and secretly raised funds.
In the words of assistant attorney general John Demers:
“North Korea’s operatives, using keyboards rather than guns, stealing digital wallets of cryptocurrency instead of sacks of cash, are the world’s leading bank robbers.”
The case has been filed in federal court in Los Angeles, and builds on the 2018 charges against one of the three, Park Jin Hyok, who was charged at that time with the infamous hack of Sony Pictures four years earlier.
He is also behind the creation of the WannaCry ransomware, as well as the theft of $81 million from the central bank of Bangladesh in 2016.
Two more defendants, Jon Chang Hyok and Kim Il, have been added to these new charges, with allegations that the three worked together in the North Korean military intelligence hacking group called the Reconnaissance General Bureau.
Along with all these abovementioned charges, the three were also engaged in operations out of North Korea, Russia, and China that attempted to steal $1.3 billion by promoting cryptocurrency applications loaded with malicious code that allowed them to access and empty the crypto wallets of the victims.
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