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Country Behind Global Ransomware Attack Targeting Southern Asia Crypto Sector – Report

Just like Iran, North Korea could also increasingly use cryptocurrencies to evade US Sanctions. However, in the case of Iran, the country plans to develop its own cryptocurrency as an Iranian version of SWIFT wherein North Korea targets growing the crypto sector in Southern Asia.

Accordingly, the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un issued the deadline addressing Donald Trump that he will further talk only if the US follows the right attitude. As a result, North Korea could use cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin to bypass international sanctions and to fund nuclear program running.

Crypto to Avoid US Sanction

North Korea has been under US Sanctions so long but and will now be using Southeast Asia’s cryptocurrency sectors. To note, South Asia is on trend as cryptocurrency sector which study shows ‘vulnerable to North Korea’s cyber activities’. It was first reported by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) which publishes a 66-page report and mentioned North Korea’s aggressive move towards the US and a possible plan of using cryptocurrencies (of Southern Asian Countries) to curb International sanctions. The report states that;

The scale and scope of North Korea’s cryptocurrency activity has expanded since the May 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack. As a determined and sophisticated cyber actor in need of financial resources, North Korea is likely to continue to find ways of obtaining and exploiting cryptocurrencies, noted report.

Nevertheless to note that History reveals North Korea is a country behind WannaCry attack took place in 2017 which affected more than 300,000 computers and demanded ransom in cryptocurrency, BTC. While North Korea openly state it may use cryptocurrency and find possible ways to employ southern Asia’s growing crypto sector, it is unclear the ways it plans to do so.

Good Or Bad?

While at one hand, Southern Asian countries come under the growing crypto sector – on the other hand, regulations around crypto among these countries are less-restricted in nature. Given this, it is quite easy for North Korea to directly target these countries. Concerning the context, the RUSI report warns these countries to be less-vulnerable to avoid risk. It says; ‘Countries in the region can take several steps to mitigate vulnerabilities’;

  • First, they should assess local cryptocurrency risks and vulnerabilities that North Korea could exploit.
  • Second, countries in Southeast Asia should design appropriate regulatory responses that enable them to mitigate a range of AML/CTF and CPF risks, including those posed by North Korea.
  • Third, countries at the domestic level should ensure that they facilitate successful interagency collaboration.
  • Fourth, Southeast Asian countries should develop coordinated regional responses.
  • Fifth, regional partners should ensure additional ongoing law enforcement training to enable the successful detection and prevention of North Korean-related cryptocurrency activity.
  • Sixth, private sector education and awareness-raising activities can draw attention to security risks and vulnerabilities

You can read the complete report here – https://www.rusi.org/sites/default/files/20190412_closing_the_crypto_gap_web.pdf

In a nutshell, cryptocurrency’s increased adoption looks pretty cool but North Korea’s decision may harm South Asia countries because the country is reportedly behind the hijacking of South Korean crypto exchanges and a top name behind  2017′s “WannaCry ” global ransomware attack.

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