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US Intelligence Reveals Extent of North Korea’s “Hidden Cobra” Crypto-Dependent Cyber

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In an effort to combat North Korea’s rampant crypto-dependent and money generating cyber crime campaign, the United States government published a list outlining the sanctioned state’s attacks dating back to 2017 as well as guidance on countermeasures.

The new warning released on 15 April by the US Treasury, Homeland Security and the FBI advocated that it was imperative to stop North Korea’s illicit cyber activities and subsequent money stream to obstruct the authoritarian regime’s plan to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Per the release, “ The DPRK’s malicious cyber activities threaten the United States and the broader international community and, in particular, pose a significant threat to the integrity and stability of the international financial system. Under the pressure of robust U.S. and UN sanctions, the DPRK has increasingly relied on illicit activities – including cybercrime – to generate revenue for its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.”

The countermeasures guidance includes the implementation of a tough anti-money-laundering framework for digital currencies and the expulsion of North Korean IT workers as well as and advice to follow best cyber practices, and communicate with law enforcement.

Hidden Cobra

The US government is calling the North Korean cyber crime campaign by the code name “Hidden Cobra” and believes the campaign began as far back as May 2017 with the WannaCry and Malware attacks which infiltrated hundreds of thousands of computers, holding data hostage until a ransom in Bitcoin was paid. These hacks have been attributed to the DPRK by governments around the world not only the United States.

The US agencies cite evident that the Hidden Cobra’s attackers have grown more  sophisticated and diverse cyber campaigns wiht the majority of their plots highly dependent on stealing digital currency.

According to the US agencies, the regarding international cyber conduct, that““The DPRK also uses cyber capabilities to steal from financial institutions, and has demonstrated a pattern of disruptive and harmful cyber activity that is wholly inconsistent.”

North Korea has rebutted the allegations of stealing almost $2 billion dollars in fiat and crypto, by calling the accusations “a sort of a nasty game.”

 

The Case of Virgil Griffiths

US officials have adopted zero-tolerance policy for even the appearance of assisting the North’s crypto operations.

Virgil Griffith, the Ethereum research scientist was arrested in Los Angeles last December and charged for allegedly aiding in the circumvention of U.S. Sanctions that have been placed on the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. (North Korea).

According to the official complaint, Griffith had explicitly asked and been denied permission to travel to North Korea in order to give the presentation on blockchain technology. Specifically, the charges cited that Griffith had been aiding the development of a crypto exchange between North Korea and South Korea and was fully aware this would violate U.S. sanctions against the DPRK.
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