Since May this year, North Korea has been consistently showcasing its sophisticated weapons. However, each new unveiling appears to be diverting the international community’s attention away from what the Pyongyang has been building behind the scenes.
According to The Associated Press, North Korea has reportedly generated nearly two billion dollars to fund its nuclear weapons programs with unprecedented cyber activities against financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges all around the world. As a result, United Nations experts are currently investigating at least thirty-five instances in seventeen victim countries, including Costa Rica, Gambia, Guatemala, Kuwait, and Liberia. Of the many targets for cyberattacks, South Korea is often the hardest-hit.
The Kim family, driven by its commitment to personal and regime survival, started to bolster its cyberattack capabilities in the late 2000s in order to alleviate the economic pressure from UN Security Council sanctions.
It should impress many observers that North Korea is equipped with such high skills even though the country possesses merely two internet connections—one that crosses the Yalu River into China, and the other that goes as far as Russia’s Far East. Seungjoo Kim, a professor at Korea University’s Graduate School of Information Security, has stated that it is partly because North Korean hackers usually operate in China and Europe where they have easy access to the internet.
“North Korea practices their craft under real conditions, like hacking cryptocurrency sites or stealing information,” he said, “These repeated exercises help to improve their skills.”