US Charges 3 North Korean Hackers in $1.3Bln Cyber Scheme, Justice Department Says

CC0 / / Cybercrime
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States has charged three North Korean hackers for allegedly orchestrating cyberattacks around the world to obtain $1.3 billion from financial institutions and businesses, the Justice Department said on Wednesday.

"A federal indictment unsealed today charges three North Korean computer programmers with participating in a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy to conduct a series of destructive cyberattacks, to steal and extort more than $1.3 billion of money and cryptocurrency from financial institutions and companies, to create and deploy multiple malicious cryptocurrency applications, and to develop and fraudulently market a blockchain platform," the DOJ said in a press release.

The three North Korean hackers Jon Chang Hyok, Kim Il, and Park Jin Hyok are members of a North Korean intelligence agency known as Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), the release said, adding that they were sometimes stationed in Russia and China.

The hackers allegedly stole $1.3 billion from banks in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Mexico, Malta, and Africa between 2015 to 2019, the release said.

The hackers are accused of engaging in ATM cash-out schemes, including the October 2018 theft of $6.1 million from BankIslami Pakistan Limited, according to the release. The hackers also allegedly created the WannaCry 2.0 ransomware in May 2017, the Justice Department added.

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They also allegedly developed malicious cryptocurrency applications from 2018 to 2020, such as Celas Trade Pro, WorldBit-Bot, iCryptoFx, Union Crypto Trader, Kupay Wallet, CoinGo Trade, Dorusio, CryptoNeuro Trader, and Ants2Whale – which would give the North Korean hackers access to the victims’ computers, the release said.

The hackers allegedly stole $75 million from a Slovenian cryptocurrency company in 2017, $24.9 million from an Indonesian cryptocurrency company in 2018, and $11.8 million from a financial services company in New York in 2020, according to the statement.

Moreover, between 2016 to 2020, the hackers allegedly launched spear-phishing campaigns targeting employees of US defence contractors, energy companies, aerospace companies, technology companies, the US Department of State, and the US Department of Defense.

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