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OVERVIEW

The justice department of the United States has accused three North Korean military intelligence officials of a campaign of cyber-attacks to embezzle $1.3 billion in crypto and traditional currencies from banks and other victims.

The department has informed that the three officials created vindictive cryptocurrency applications, opening backdoors into victim’s computers; hacked into companies marketing and trading digital currencies and a blockchain platform was created to secretly raise funds.

John Demers, assistant attorney general has stated that the operatives of North Korea are the world’s leading bank robbers who use keyboards rather than guns to steal cryptocurrency.

CHARGES ON OFFICIALS

The case has been filed in Los Angeles’ federal court. Park Jin Hyok, one of the three North Korean officials was charged with the hack of Sony pictures in 2018, and with the creation of the WannaCry ransomware. In 2016, he was charged with theft of $81m from the central bank of Bangladesh.

The other two officials, Jon Chang Hyok and Kim II are accused of working in the Reconnaissance General Bureau, North Korean military intelligence hacking group along with Park Jin Hyok.

In addition to these charges, they engaged in operations out of North Korea, Russia, and China to attempt to steal $1.3 billion by hacking computers and promoting cryptocurrency applications rigged with malicious software.

It has also been alleged that the three hacked into and robbed digital currency exchanges in Indonesia and Slovenia.

WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW?

Officials responsible for law enforcement have stated that the prosecution brings to light the profit-driven motive behind North Korea’s criminal hacking.

This is in contrast from other nations like Russia, China and Iran who are mostly interested in intellectual property theft, espionage or even disrupting democracy.

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