North Korean Hackers

North Korean Hackers Charged for Global Cyberattacks

Federal authorities declared on Wednesday, 3 North Korean Hackers are charged for attempting to steal more than $1.3 billion from renowned companies and banks all around the globe by committing horrific cyberattack activities.

The alleged defendants, 31 years old Jon Chang, Kim II 27, and Park Jin Hyok 36, members of North Korea’s military intelligence agency known as Reconnaissance General Bureau, that is indicted for committing cyber fraud from 2014 to early 2020 to benefit North Korea’s government.

“As laid out in today’s indictment, North Korea’s operatives, using keyboards rather than guns, stealing digital wallets of cryptocurrency instead of sacks of cash, are the world’s leading 21st-century nation-state bank robbers,” stated John Demers, the assistant attorney general for national security.

The indictment states the alleged role of Park Jin Hyok in the 2014 attack on Sony Pictures for distribution of the movie  “The Interview, ” a comedy based on the assassination of North Korea’s President, Kim Jong Un. Park is also accused of targeting Mammoth Screen for producing a fictional series that portrayed the story of a British scientist taken captive by North Korea’s Government.

Movies are not the only targets of Park Jin Hyok’s cyber attacks. He is also accused of stealing $81 million dollars from Bangladesh’s central bank. Park Jin Hyu, with his threatening programming abilities, allegedly carried out multiple cyber-heists without ever being caught.

The trio, often stationed in other countries such as Russia and China while carrying out their cyber operations, is indicted for trying to steal $1.2 billion by breaching the banking computer systems of Mexico, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Malta, and Africa from 2015 through 2019 and for robbing 25 million dollars from an Indonesian cryptocurrency company and 11.8 million dollars from New York’s financial services firm.

Actively involved in the creation of WannaCry 2.0 ransomware, The 3 hackers have showcased their sophisticated technological and strategic skills by breaching the protected systems of Britain’s National Health services along with targeting the vulnerable cryptocurrency sectors of many third world countries.

The hackers have also been accused of creating “multiple malicious cryptocurrency applications, and to develop and fraudulently market a blockchain platform,” according to the press release of the Department of Justice. These malicious applications include CryptoNeuro Trader, Celas Trade Pro, Kupay Wallet WorldBit-Bot, iCryptoFx, Union Crypto Trader, CoinGo Trade, Dorusio, and Ants2Whale as stated by the officials.

Demer stresses North Korea’s malicious ways of acquiring money after the following cyberattacks have been brought to light. He emphasizes how North Korea’s extraordinary technological skills can pose a threat to institutions and other states.

“The regime has become a criminal syndicate with a flag, which harnesses its state resources to steal hundreds of millions of dollars,” Demers said.

“What we see almost uniquely out of North Korea is trying to raise funds through illegal cyber activity,” he added. “Their need as a country is for currency because of their economic system and the sanctions placed on them, so they use their cyber capabilities to get currency however they can do that.”

The accusation states that the trio has a way of using emails that contain malware to gain access to their victim’s computer systems. The defendants are accused of practicing the illegal ways of acquiring cash by executing ATM-cash out operations. Malware installed on the banking computers allows the hackers to withdraw huge sums of money from ATM machines. This is how the trio succeeded in stealing $6.1 Million from BankIslami Pakistan Limited in 2017.

Tracy Wilkison, the acting US attorney in Los Angeles addressed the following cyber activities:

“The hackers charged in the indictment were members of units known in the cybersecurity community as Lascaris Group and Advanced Persistent Threat 38. While the cybersecurity community recognizes these two as different North Korean groups, the criminal investigation has revealed that these groups were part of a single conspiracy that worked under the North Korean military to destroy computer systems and to steal money and information, all for revenge and to finance the criminal regime.”

 She further added, “The scope of these crimes by the North Korean hackers is staggering. They are the crimes of a nation-state that has stopped at nothing to exact revenge and obtain money to prop up its regime.”

 On Wednesday, as disclosed by the officials, Ghaleb Alaumary, a 37-year-old Canadian-American has agreed to hold responsibility for being involved in the money laundering scheme and confessed to helping the alleged hackers in their illegal cyber activities. Ghaleb helped the defenders by arranging teams in Canada and America to cash out huge sums of money from hacked ATM-machines.

Kim II, one of the defendants is accused of creating a digital token, Marie Chain Token, that allows investors to purchase cargo ships’ fractional ownership and concealing the fact that the ships were in fact controlled and possessed by North Korea that aimed to make money for the North Korean government.

Federal institutions say that the Justice Department has a little to no chance of holding these three notorious hackers accountable for the atrocious crime they have committed but the allegations are determined to send a loud and crystal clear message to North Korea and any other state trying to plot devious and illegal methods to receive money.

Demers said on Wednesday’s press release commenting about the trio of these North Korean Hackers, “You think you’re anonymous behind a keyboard, but you’re not,” he added, holding the indictment as proof “We lay out how we can prove attribution not to a nation-state level, or a unit level within a military or intelligence organization, but to an individual hacker.”

Sherjan Ali
My name is Sherjan Ali and I am a chemical engineer with more than 6 years of experience in content writing. I have written blogs, articles, and guides for many websites during this time. For any questions, I'm just a text away!