Reports from prominent cybersecurity groups claim that North Korea, the world’s most well-recognized hermit nation, is responsible for a number of malicious acts against the crypto economy at large.
North Korea May Be Using Crypto Scams To Fund Regime Efforts
An exclusive report from cyber-threat intelligence firm Recorded Future, which has been relayed by Independent, implicates North Korean sympathizers in two crypto-related scams, which both occurred in 2018.
Per the report, titled “Shifting Patterns in Internet Use Reveal Adaptable and Innovative North Korean Ruling Elite,” the first scam, which was backed by a Singapore-based network of “North Korea-enablers,” is associated with a crypto asset dubbed “Interstellar Holdings (HOLD).”
Not much is known about the altcoin, but reports claim that the asset was listed, and subsequently delisted on a handful of exchanges in the past nine months. To seemingly restore investor trust in the asset, the shadowed individuals/group behind HOLD rebranded the project to HUZU, but as of the time of press, development has stalled. It can be assumed that the group behind this project pre-mined tokens, dumped them en-masse, and left investors out in the cold.
While North Korea’s affiliation with HOLD was only confirmed with “low confidence,” Recorded Future claimed with “high confidence” that the second scam was likely in cahoots with the hermit state.
The scam, which was centered around a blockchain startup dubbed “Marine Chain Platform,” reportedly touted itself as a way to tokenize maritime vessels. The project, which also issued an initial coin offering (ICO), first hit the market in August 2018, when Recorded Future’s researchers spotted discussions regarding Marine Chain.
After an in-depth investigation into the startup’s history, domain registry information, LinkedIn page, and its webpage, which was found to have been plagiarized from Shipowner.io, the cyber-threat firm behind the report revealed that Capt. Foong, the man behind Marine Chain, held ties to North Korea.
While this Foong’s ties to the North Korean regime isn’t criminal per se, the fact that “dozens of users” had lost tens of thousands of dollars was obviously something to write home about.
“Lazarus” Hacker Group Blamed For Five Exchange Hacks
In related news, a Group-IB report claims that the North Korea-based Lazarus hacker group is responsible for some of the crypto industry’s most-damaging hacks in the past 12 months. Although the exact extent of Lazarus’ quickly growing sphere of influence is still unknown, citing the Group-IB report, The Next Web’s Hard Fork revealed that the group is directly tied to the attacks on the following five cryptocurrency platforms — CoinCheck, YouBit, Coinis, Bithumb, and Yapizon.
Interestingly enough, it was noted that Lazarus was likely not responsible for the recent hacks on the Zaif, Bancor, and Coinrail platforms.