North Korean Hackers Charged By Justice Department For Global Attacks

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Prosecutors allege the trio attempted to steal around $1.2 billion, although the exact figure of money they successfully made off with is not clear. "Ray Hushpuppi", and others to launder funds from a North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank in February 2019".

None of the three defendants are in American custody, and though officials do not expect them to travel to the United States for prosecution, Justice Department officials have, in recent years, found value in indicting foreign government hackers even in absentia as a message that they are not anonymous and can be identified and implicated in crimes.

"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 Demers in a statement.

On Wednesday, federal officials unsealed an indictment against the three suspects, claiming they work for North Korea's government through a military agency known as the Reconnaissance General Bureau. The agency houses hacking units known by various names, including Lazarus Group and Advanced Persistent Threat 38 (APT38).

One of the defendants, Park Jin Hyok, was previously charged two years ago for his role in the 2014 hacking of Sony Entertainment Pictures.

Alaumary helped arrange for money to be removed from ATMs hacked by the North Korean operation.

Although officials briefing reporters on Wednesday said they couldn't pinpoint how successful the hackers were in their attempts to steal almost $1.3 billion, the indictment does allege cryptocurrency thefts of at least $112 million.


At the same time, prosecutors announced a plea deal with a dual U.S. These "are the acts of a criminal nation-state that has stopped at nothing to extract revenge and obtain money to prop up its regime".

The indictment describes a vast and multilayered scheme that went well beyond the Sony attack, targeting worldwide banks and cryptocurrency companies.

According to the indictment, the defendants are responsible for some of the most damaging cyberattacks ever, including the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment, the cyber-heist of $81 million from the Bank of Bangladesh, and the Wannacry 2.0 attack.

Also undertaken by the conspiracy is a scheme that involved creating malicious applications that masqueraded as legitimate cryptocurrency trading platforms, only to use them as a backdoor to transfer money to their accounts fraudulently. That includes $75 million from a Slovenian cryptocurrency exchange in 2017; almost $25 million from an Indonesian exchange in 2018; and $11.8 million from a financial services company in NY in August in which the hackers used the CryptoNeuro Trader application as a back door.

The indictment says the computer breaches often began with spear-phishing emails that contained malware that allowed them to access their victims' computer systems.

The US Justice Department accused the government of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un of a campaign of cyber theft to raise millions for the country.

The $1.3 billion allegedly targeted would represent nearly half the total amount of North Korea's civilian merchandise imports - mainly from China - in 2019, the most recent year for which estimates are available, said Nicholas Eberstadt, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute.

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