N Korea stole $2.8b in cyber attacks to fund weapons programme: Report
UNITED NATIONS: North Korea has generated an estimated US$2 billion (S$2.8 billion) for its weapons of mass destruction programmes using "widespread and increasingly sophisticated" cyberattacks to steal from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges, according to a confidential United Nations report seen by Reuters on Monday.
Pyongyang also "continued to enhance its nuclear and missile programmes although it did not conduct a nuclear test or ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) launch," said the report to the UN Security Council North Korea sanctions committee by independent experts monitoring compliance over the past six months.
The North Korean mission to the UN did not respond to a request for comment on the report, which was submitted to the Security Council committee last week. The experts said North Korea "used cyberspace to launch increasingly sophisticated attacks to steal funds from financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges to generate income". They also used cyberspace to launder the stolen money.
"Democratic People's Republic of Korea cyber actors, many operating under the direction of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, raise money for its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) programmes, with total proceeds to date estimated at up to two billion US dollars," the report said.
The Reconnaissance General Bureau is a top North Korean military intelligence agency.
The experts said they are investigating "at least 35 reported instances of DPRK actors attacking financial institutions, cryptocurrency exchanges and mining activity designed to earn foreign currency" in some 17 countries. The UN experts said North Korea's attacks against cryptocurrency exchanges allowed it "to generate income in ways that are harder to trace and subject to less government oversight and regulation than the traditional banking sector". - REUTERS