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South Korea Imposes Independent Sanctions on North Korea For Cryptocurrency Thefts

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South Korea Imposes Independent Sanctions on North Korea For Cryptocurrency Thefts
South Korea Imposes Independent Sanctions on North Korea For Cryptocurrency Thefts

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  • What – South Korea and the US have partnered to combat ransomware threats, resulting in sanctions against several individuals and hacking groups.
  • Why – The joint venture reflects their dedication to improving cybersecurity, and the sanctions aim to change behavior through economic pressure.
  • What Next – The effort is part of a more significant push to deter cyberattacks and promote a safer online environment.

South Korea has imposed independent sanctions on North Korean groups and individuals involved in cryptocurrency theft and cyberattacks. This marks a firm stance on improving cybersecurity and disrupting malicious activities. The sanctions aim to limit the financial operations of these groups and protect citizens and digital assets from cyber threats.

South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has blacklisted North Korean individuals Park Jin-hyok, Jo Myong-rae, Song Rim, and Oh Chung-Seong, along with seven businesses, for alleged involvement in cyberattacks and cryptocurrency theft. The blacklist serves as a deterrent and limits their financial operations. This action shows South Korea’s dedication to enhancing cybersecurity and protecting citizens and digital assets from cybercrime.

Park Jin-hyok, a notorious North Korean hacker, has been blacklisted by South Korea and the US Treasury for his involvement in significant cyberattacks such as WannaCry and the Sony Pictures breach. Associated with the Chosun Expo Joint Venture linked to the Lazarus Group, he is considered a threat to global financial systems and cybersecurity. The blacklists aim to hold him and other malicious actors accountable.

South Korea Imposes Independent Sanctions on North Korea For Cryptocurrency Thefts
FBI Wanted Aoster against an N.Korean hacker. Source: FBI

North Korean Hackers Steal Record-Breaking Cryptocurrency Funds

North Korean hackers have stolen virtual assets worth over $1.2 billion since 2017, including a record $626 million in 2022, according to the South Korean foreign ministry. In addition, a confidential UN report states that the theft amount could be between $650 million and $1 billion, revealing that North Korean hackers stole more cryptocurrency in 2022 than in any other year. These findings highlight the need for international efforts to combat cybercrime and protect virtual assets from theft.

South Korea Imposes Independent Sanctions on North Korea For Cryptocurrency Thefts
North Korean hackers have been stealing more crypto than ever before. Source Chainalysis

South Korea and the US announced a joint cybersecurity venture against ransomware threats, followed by South Korea’s independent sanctions against North Korean hackers and hacker groups. The National Intelligence Service of South Korea, in coordination with the US National Security Agency and other intelligence organizations, released a joint alert on the threat of ransomware from North Korea. This coordinated effort aims to combat cybercrime and enhance the security of virtual assets.

North Korean cyber activities, believed to be carried out by the Reconnaissance General Bureau (its military intelligence agency), have been linked to funding the country’s nuclear and missile programs. Despite international sanctions, these activities remain one of the primary sources of funding for North Korea.

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