South Korean officials believe that North Korean hackers stole tens of millions of dollars' worth in cryptocurrencies last year, according to local reports.
Kyodo News reports that the National Intelligence Service (NIS), briefing the country's lawmakers on the cyber attacks, said that phishing scams and other methods had yielded tens of billions of won in customer funds. The news service notably reported that authorities in South Korea are probing whether the same hackers were behind last month's attack on Coincheck, which led to the theft of more than $500 million in cryptocurrency.
Last year's attack on cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb resulted in roughly 8 billion won being stolen, along with the personal information of some 30,000 customers, as previously reported by CoinDesk.
South Korean parliament member Kim Byung-kee further noted the impact of phishing emails in scamming users, according to Reuters, saying:
"North Korea sent emails that could hack into cryptocurrency exchanges and their customers' private information and stole (cryptocurrency) worth billions of won."
Reclusive North Korea has been implicated in exchange hacks and scams on numerous occasions, as well as unsuccessful attempts at stealing cryptocurrencies from trading sites, as previously reported. Last year, police officials claimed that North Korean attackers attempted to trick 25 employees at four exchanges with spear phishing attacks, though none appeared to have fallen for the ruse.
The attempted thefts were first reported by cybersecurity firm FireEye, and later confirmed by government officials.
The rogue nation seems to be going after cryptocurrencies as a way to evade financial sanctions imposed by the United Nations, particularly sanctions voted in after the country's recent nuclear missile tests.
North Korean wall image via Shutterstock