North Korea mining for cryptocurrency, sending coins to Kim Il-sung University

A U.S.-based cybersecurity firm has discovered
software that installs code for mining cryptocurrency and sends mined coins to a North Korean university. This appears to be the latest effort by Pyongyang
to find an alternative stream of revenue,… as intensified UN sanctions continue to bite. Park Soyun reports. Cyber firm AlienVault says it has found software
created late last month, that uses host computers to mine a cryptocurrency called Monero and
sends the coins to Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang. It says the North Korean server, however,
is not connected to the wider internet, raising the possibility that it was included to trick
observers into connecting the software to North Korea. The university hosts students and professors
who aren’t North Korean, meaning North Korea may not be behind the mining. Cryptocurrency watchers say Monero — 13th
largest crypto asset in the world with a value of more than seven billion U.S. dollars — is
a particularly appealing choice of payment among cyber criminals, as it’s easier to hide
and launder compared to Bitcoin. There have also been previous reports of North
Koreans mining Monero. A North Korean hacking group called Andariel
penetrated a server of a South Korean company in 2017 and used it to mine 70 Monero coins
worth 25-thousand dollars. Christopher Doman, a security researcher at
AlienVault said North Korea has certainly been linked to other cryptocurrency mining
campaigns. AlienVault reported that one North Korean
IP address has been active in Bitcoin trading and was related to cyberattacks in South Korea
in 2014 and 2015. North Korea has shown increased interest in
cryptocurrencies — Pyongyang University of Science and Technology recently invited foreign
experts to lecture on cryptocurrences. As North Korea widens its hunt for cash under
the highest level of sanctions in history, Pyongyang is hoping cryptocurrencies may provide
an alternative source of financial income. Park Soyun, Arirang News.

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