North Korea earns half of its dollars from cybercrime
The regime, isolated by international sanctions, is in dire need of globally accepted means of payment, and these methods are not hard to please.
The United States estimates that North Korea derives nearly half of its foreign exchange earnings from cyberattacks. It is understood that Washington is trying to cut off the necessary resources to finance the armaments program, which have grown in volume in recent years – I mentioned Niki about it.
A senior US government official told The Asian Post last week that the US is “very concerned” that piracy now accounts for about half of the foreign currency flowing into Pyongyang’s regime. The official noted that North Korea’s cyber attacks have risen sharply since 2018. During the same period, missile launches by the country led by Kim Jong Un also increased.
North Korea’s foreign trade, which previously could not be described as thriving due to international sanctions, continued to decline during the pandemic. All this has only encouraged one of the most closed countries in the world to step up illegal activities on the Internet that can make money.
Estimates are spread widely
This is nothing new, as a UN report released this year also found that North Korea stole more crypto assets in 2022 than in any previous year, this time also targeting the networks of aerospace and defense companies. Moreover, according to the report, Pyongyang is using increasingly sophisticated techniques to obtain potentially valuable information.
It is not easy to determine the exact dollar amount due to the volatility of cryptocurrency exchange rates, among other things. The South Korean government estimates that North Korea stole nearly $700 million in cryptocurrency in 2022, but an unnamed cybersecurity firm puts the figure at more than $1.5 billion. According to Seoul, Pyongyang employs about 10,000 hackers who steal cryptocurrency from exchanges or carry out ransomware attacks against companies.
The state’s illegal telework program
At the same time, not only North Korea gets valuable resources from this. According to a South Korean government report published at the end of last year, Pyongyang is “deploying” thousands of IT professionals with fake identities to work remotely in several countries around the world, so that, ideally, they can enrich the country’s foreign exchange reserves through programming work. A properly completed development.
Since all of this could bring the regime hundreds of millions of dollars a year based on Seoul’s estimations, it is no coincidence that the United States and South Korea held a joint seminar last month. In addition to officials from dozens of countries, representatives of companies operating social media platforms and companies dealing in the recruitment of information technology workers, aimed at strengthening measures against manipulation in Pyongyang, took part in the event.