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‘North Korean Crypto Hackers Target South Korean Minister’ – What Do We Know?

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In a recent report, Seoul-based police officials have revealed that North Korean crypto hackers launched a targeted campaign against the South Korean minister last year. This article delves into the details of the attack, highlighting the tactics used by hackers and their potential implications for cybersecurity. The police investigation has provided valuable insight into the extent of the infiltration and sophistication of the North Korean hacking organization, Kimsuky.

According to an exclusive report by Dong-a Ilbo, police officers managed to gain control of the server allegedly used during the attempted attack. Subsequent server checks lead to the discovery of two cryptocurrency wallet addresses associated with the hackers. This address is associated with transactions totaling nearly $1,600. Police are currently investigating whether this transaction was part of an attempt to steal funds.

Seoul has long held North Korea responsible for high-profile cyber attacks against South Korean cryptocurrency targets, including major exchanges and individual users. A branch of the National Police Agency under investigation revealed that the compromised servers contained evidence indicating that Kimsuky, a North Korean hacking organization, had launched a phishing email campaign targeting South Korean officials in mid-2022.

People targeted for these attacks include former and current high-ranking officials, foreign and security affairs experts, academic experts and journalists. In addition, Kimsuky used deceptive tactics, posing as students or individuals seeking professional opinion, to lure dozens of security experts to phishing sites to obtain sensitive information.

The timing of the campaign coincided with the inauguration of President Yoon Seok-yeol’s government, which ran from April to July the previous year. This raises concerns about the potential motives behind the attack and the implications for national security.

The latest report from Sentinel Labs, a well-known security provider, highlights Kimsuky’s targeted focus on expert analysts on North Korean affairs. The hacking group went so far as to impersonate NK News, an English-language media outlet focused on North Korea, to steal credentials. Additionally, security experts have linked another North Korean hacking group to the theft of $35 million from crypto wallet platform Atomic Wallet. Elliptic, an analytics firm, traced the stolen funds to Sinbad, a crypto mixer believed to be a relaunch of coin mixing platform Blender.

The revelations of North Korean crypto hackers specifically targeting South Korean ministers have raised significant concerns about cybersecurity. This sophisticated campaign and the ability of hackers to infiltrate government networks underscores the importance of robust security measures and increased vigilance in protecting sensitive information and cryptocurrency assets.

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