North Korea hacking threatens global financial system, US says

Pyongyang's hackers have long been accused of targeting financial institutions

People watch a television news broadcast showing file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at a railway station in Seoul on April 14, 2020. AFP
People watch a television news broadcast showing file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at a railway station in Seoul on April 14, 2020. AFP

US government officials warned on Wednesday about the threat of North Korean hackers, calling particular attention to banking and other finance.

The reason for the advisory – which was jointly issued by the US Departments of State, Treasury, and Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation – was unclear.

North Korean hackers have long been accused of targeting financial institutions, and the content of the warning appeared to draw on material already in the public domain.

Requests for comment sent to the US agencies were not immediately returned. The North Korean mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

North Korea is alleged to be behind an ambitious, years-long campaign of digital theft, including siphoning tens of millions of dollars in cash from ATMs, carrying out gigantic thefts at major banks, extorting computer users worldwide, and hijacking digital currency exchanges. The global money-grab has been a topic of increasing international concern.

Last year, for example, a UN report said that North Korea had generated an estimated $2 billion for its weapons of mass destruction programs using "widespread and increasingly sophisticated" hacking efforts.

In Wednesday's advisory, US officials said North Korea's online activities "threaten the United States and countries around the world and, in particular, pose a significant threat to the integrity and stability of the international financial system."

Across the Korean peninsula on Wednesday, Pyongyang's arch-rival South Korea held a parliamentary election despite the coronavirus crisis.

In a surprisingly high turnout, millions of South Korean voters wore masks and moved slowly between lines of tape at polling stations to elect MPs.

The government resisted calls to postpone the parliamentary elections billed as a midterm referendum on President Moon Jae-in, who enters the final two years of his single five-year term grappling with a historic public health crisis that is unleashing massive economic shock.

While South Korea's electorate is deeply divided along ideological and generational lines and regional loyalties, recent surveys showed growing support for Moon and his liberal party, reflecting the public's approval of an aggressive test-and-quarantine program so far credited for lower fatality rates for the coronavirus compared to China, Europe and North America.

Published: April 15, 2020 07:19 PM

SHARE

Editor's Picks
NEWSLETTERS
Sign up to:

* Please select one

Most Read