North Korea’s hacker Lazarus: USA accuse “best bank robbers in the world” – digital


The three hackers Kim Il, Park Hyok and Jon Hyok see themselves as spies on behalf of His Highness. Much of the rest of the world sees the three of them as criminals, and quite dangerous ones. The US prosecutor in charge called the members of the Lazarus hacker group the “best bank robbers in the world” on Wednesday. Your client: the North Korean dictator Kim Yong Un.

Kim, Park and Jon, whose names are presumably different, are no ordinary bank robbers. Guns are not used in their very lucrative raids, but viruses and Trojans. Over the past few years they are believed to have been involved in some of the most costly cybercrimes ever, including the Wannacry ransomware attack. The computer worm attacked hundreds of thousands of Windows computers in 2017 and extorted a ransom in order to release the encrypted data. In addition, the North Koreans are said to have hacked the Swift bank communication system and stolen around 100 million dollars with false transfers. Attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges, for which Lazarus is said to be responsible, are also mentioned again and again. Total damage: over a billion euros. One of the three, Park Hyok, had already been indicted by the US judiciary in 2018 for the Sony hack. In 2014, strangers broke into Sony’s network and caused greater damage there. Sony had previously produced a comedy about the Korean dictator being killed.

According to the US Department of Justice, the defendants work for the RGB, a division of the North Korean secret service. Various cybersecurity companies call the group internally APT 38, Hidden Cobra or Lazarus.

It is extremely unusual for government-sponsored hacker groups to commit virtual bank robberies. Most state hackers spy for their country, and in a few cases sabotage has also been proven. In the case of North Korea, however, fundraising appears to be the primary task of well-trained cyber warriors. Adam Meyers of cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike believes the raids have been going on since at least 2015. “They are trying to circumvent the US and international community’s economic sanctions,” Meyers wrote to the SZ.

And with some success. According to the indictment by the US Department of Justice, the Lazarus group is said to have stolen around one billion euros, a good part of it in cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are a blessing for the North Korean hackers, the virtual currencies are much easier to store and send across national borders than ordinary money.

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