North Korea has constantly found itself in the news, with most of its involvements being for the worse most times. From funding the activities of a hacking group to stealing money from financial institutions across the world, the Asian nation-state has managed to survive despite being on the brink of economic collapse.
Even though several reports have confirmed strict government control over the country’s Internet, a new report is pointing out that Internet activity across North Korea has actually been on the rise.
Sourcing for information and Funds
Titled, “How North Korea Revolutionized the Internet as a Tool for Rogue Regimes,” the report in question was published late last week by Insikt Group, the data, and intelligence arm of cybersecurity firm recorded Future. In it, the firm analyzed Internet activity by senior North Korean government officials between Jan. 1, 2019, and Nov. 1, 2019. As it explained, Internet use has seen significant increases, as the country seems to have started embracing more of online technologies and information in a bid to stay relevant.
Insikt pointed out that apart from being an important source of education, the Internet has also grown to be one of the most potent revenue-generation media for the North Korean government. Top government officials have been able to obtain knowledge about cyber operations and ballistic missile programs being conducted by other countries, while also working with hacker groups and citizens to conduct cyberattacks and crimes on foreign organizations and institutions.
The cybersecurity firm explained that in 2019 alone, it was able to point out North Korean secret agents in 8 countries- including China, India, Kenya, Bangladesh, and Thailand. China and India were pointed out as two of the most susceptible hosts to North Korean hackers and espionage officials, although their purpose for working in these countries is yet to be revealed.
More of a Matter of Expediency
Confirming what has previously been reported, Insikt revealed that the country has learned to embrace cryptocurrencies. As stated earlier, North Korea is currently navigating the effects of crippling economic sanctions imposed by both the United States and the international community. Top export materials have been put under heavy restrictions, and with revenue streams being severely depleted, Pyongyang has had no choice but to fund a way to circumvent the murky situation.
Over the past few years, the North Korean government has been heavily linked to hacker organizations- most notably the Lazarus Group. Last year, the United Nations reported that the group had attacked financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges in several foreign countries (particularly South Korea), netting up to $2 billion for the government; money that, as the UN opined, was most likely used to help fund the government’s nuclear weapons program.
Pyongyang came out swiftly to deny the allegations, but it’s rather obvious that North Korea has taken a liking towards cryptocurrencies.