Again and again Kim Jong-un’s hackers cash in big. The FBI is now certain that a particularly spectacular robbery last summer is also to be attributed to her.
Not long ago, jokes were made about North Korea’s hacking squads. An impoverished state, largely cut off from the internet. And felt far away from the modern world.
That has changed fundamentally: The well-trained state hackers are now one of the most important sources of income for Kim Jong-un’s regime. A single action last summer is said to have flushed them 100 million dollars into their tight coffers.
This was recently confirmed by the US federal police FBI. Together with half a dozen other authorities and public prosecutors, the hack of the so-called Harmony Bridge was investigated in June 2022. And now be sure that the North Korean Lazarus group is behind it, the FBI reported in a press release on Monday.
Also read: US authorities warn – these three hacker groups bring in billions for Kim Jong-un
The “Railgun” convicted the perpetrators
The attack happened on June 24 last year. The Harmony Bridge is a type of interface that cryptocurrency owners can use to transfer their digital coins from one blockchain to another.
The Lazarus hackers had discovered a vulnerability in the technology – and used it to steal digital coins of the currencies Ether, Tether and Wrapped Bitcoin worth 100 million dollars (currently around 92 million euros).
Authorities managed to trace the money. It has been proven that two weeks ago the hackers tried to launder more than 60 million dollars in ether from the theft using the “Railgun” program.
However, they were caught by the officers. Some of the money was then frozen and the majority went to wallets controlled by the US authorities.
The fact that North Korea is raising millions through digital robberies worries the US authorities for one reason in particular: the FBI emphasizes that the stolen funds would also be used to finance the nuclear weapons program of the internationally isolated state.
It has been known for years that his hackers have become one of the most important sources of money for Kim Jong-un. Again and again groups like Lazarus draw attention to themselves with spectacular actions.
In 2016, the group almost pulled off the biggest bank robbery to date: With a clever move, they wanted to steal almost a billion dollars from a bank in Bangladesh. In the end, the campaign failed because of a single word that happened to be on a blacklist (read the whole story here).
North Korea: Kim Jong-un’s hackers use this clever trick to read your emails
North Korea’s hackers attacked him – so he took revenge on the entire country’s internet
How strictly Kim Jong-un monitors the smartphones of his population – and how they defend themselves
“Hidden Cobra”: FBI launches attack against North Korea’s hackers – and is breaking new ground
Bitcoin and iTunes vouchers: This is how North Korean hackers wash their loot of millions