UN Investigating 35 North Korean Military-Funding Cyberattacks

As reported on Aug. 6, the earlier confidential U.N. report seen by Reuters – researched by “independent experts” and presented to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee – suggests that North Korea has used “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” hacks to collect roughly $2 billion.

After a U.N. report recently accused the North Korean regime of carrying out major cyberattacks of banks and crypto exchanges to fund its weapons of mass destruction programs, a longer version of the report has set out the claims in new detail.

The new lengthier version of the report, seen by Associated Press, sets out that North Korea may have carried out at least 35 hacks in 17 countries and that the U.S. experts are investigating.

The UN says that South Korea bore the brunt of the efforts, having suffered 10 attacks. The nation’s Bithumb cryptocurrency exchange is said to have been hacked at least four times.

India came next with three cyberattacks, while Bangladesh and Chile each had two attacks. Thirteen nations suffered one attack each, listed in the report as: Costa Rica, Gambia, Guatemala, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Nigeria, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Tunisia and Vietnam.

The report further describes North Korea’s modus operandi, saying that the nation employs three “low risk and high yield” methods to grab illicit gains.

As well as targeting crypto exchanges and users, North Korea’s hacking experts also carry out attacks through the SWIFT bank messaging network, “with bank employee computers and infrastructure accessed to send fraudulent messages and destroy evidence.”

In one attack, the hackers managed to take over the ATM network for an entire nation and force 10,000 payments to alleged North Korean operatives.

North Korea is also said to be mining cryptocurrency via illicit cryptojacking malware to fund a “professional branch of the military.”

Tunisia’s Central Bank Denies Reports Claiming It Issued an E-Dinar

The Central Bank of Tunisia is denying reports that it has launched a digital currency.

In a sweeping rejection published this week the central bank quashed “unfounded” rumors that it had become the first monetary authority to issue a central bank digital currency (CBDC), asserting instead that an unaffiliated “proof of concept” project was taken “out of context:”

“The Central Bank of Tunisia has not engaged any relationship, of any kind, with any national or foreign provider with the aim of creating any digital currency.”

The bank did admit that it is considering a CBDC, as it says it is studying “all existing alternatives.” But there are no immediate plans for an E-Dinar to go live: “The bank is studying the opportunities and risks inherent in these new technologies, particularly in terms of cyber security and financial stability.”

Last week, Russia’s state-owned Tass news agency reported the Central Bank was partnering with the Universa Blockchain to develop and issue a digital currency. The announcement was claimed to have come at a FOREX Club Tunisia event.

But the Central Bank said that no announcement was ever made. Instead, it pointed to a CBDC test project demonstration at the FOREX event at the root of the misunderstanding:

“This test of POC (Proof of concept) was taken out of context becoming a marketing operation where the name of the BCT was improperly used.”

Universa’s CEO Alexander Borodich also presented the project at the Malta AI & Blockchain Summit in Malta last week. Borodich hadn’t responded to CoinDesk’s request for comment by press time.

Universa, which raised $28.8 million during an ICO in 2017, has been mired in a scandal in Russia. In March 2018, Universa community manager Artur Lipatov wrote a Facebook post saying that Universa’s blockchain could not power smart contracts, the company’s operations were in trouble, and that he was leaving – that post is now unavailable.

The statement dropped Universa’s token value by 20 percent from $0.037 to $0.03 and Borodich sued his former employee for $15,500 for defamation.

Tunisia earlier showed some mild interest to the blockchain tech. In 2015, the country’s Ministry of Communication Technologies posted a job opening for an intern with blockchain knowledge. The same year, Tunisia’s postal service reported trialing a crypto-powered payment app.

The country remains open to experiments with the tech, according to today’s statement.

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