A U.S. court has brought charges against three North Korean hackers, accusing them of massive crypto thefts. The individuals are computer programmers and have allegedly worked alongside government officials on their operations.
Stealing More than $1.3B in Cash and Crypto
A U.S. court charged three North Korean individuals suspected in an attempt for a massive hack and conspiracy to steal and extort over $1.3 billion in cash and cryptocurrencies. As per the official court documents, the three defendants — Jon Chang Hyo (31), Kim Il (27), and Park Jin Hyok (36), have allegedly been members of а military intelligence division of North Korea – the Reconnaissance General Bureau. The organization is also known as the Lazarus group, Hidden Cobra, or Advanced Persistent Threat 38.
The wide-scoped crime has allegedly aimed in committing cyberattacks and other financial crimes worldwide, including ransomware attacks, phishing campaigns, digital bank heists, and sophisticated money-laundering operations. The current indictment has included a 2018 case detailing strikes on Sony Pictures, the creation of WannaCry Ransomware, other global schemes to steal money and cryptocurrency from banks and businesses while operating in China and North Korea.
“Today’s unsealed indictment expands upon the FBI’s 2018 charges for the unprecedented cyberattacks conducted by the North Korean regime,” said the FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate.
The three computer programmers have allegedly created and managed multiple malicious cryptocurrency applications. Through them, they have developed and promoted a fraudulent blockchain platform.
“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 bank robbers,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
He also added that the authorities would continue to counter against such malicious nation-state cyber activity, using unique tools and work with partnering agencies and “the family of norms abiding nations to do the same.”
Hackers in Connection with Government Officials
Cyberattacks led by malicious groups have been taking place globally for some years now, and the Department of Justice (DoJ) has been quite busy in engaging them.
As per the charges on the three North Korean hackers, their crimes’ scale is an extensive, long-running endeavor, showing an alleged connection between hackers and government officials.
“This case is a particularly striking example of the growing alliance between officials within some national governments and highly sophisticated cyber-criminals,” said U.S. Secret Service Assistant Director Michael R. D’Ambrosio.
Both Jon, Kim, and Park are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, facing a sentence of up to five years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, with a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.