A confidential United Nations report claims that North Korea is using “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” cyberattacks to steal from financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges in order to fund its weapons of mass destruction programs, Reuters reported.
The UN report, compiled by a group of independent experts, was submitted last week to the United Nations Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee. According to the report, Pyongyang has generated as much as $2 billion dollars through cyberattacks
The group is investigating at least 35 reported instances of North Korean actors attacking financial institutions, cryptocurrency exchanges and mining activity designed to earn foreign currency in 17 nations. According to the report, these cyber actors are operating under the direction of the Reconnaissance General Bureau – North Korea’s top military intelligence agency.
The experts note that large-scale attacks against cryptocurrency exchanges by North Korea allow the country to generate income in ways that are harder to trace and subject to less government oversight and regulation than the traditional banking sector.
The report further indicates that North Korea is using new techniques to earn hard currency for its illegal activities. Many of the entities, operating as ploys, “continued to operate overseas, including under diplomatic cover, attempting to transfer conventional weapons and expertise and to procure equipment and technology” to the country.
Additionally, the experts say that North Korea continues to have access to the global financial system, through bank representatives and networks operating worldwide due to failure to implement financial sanctions as well as due to Pyongyang’s deceptive practices.