South Korean newspaper says North Korea behind attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges

South Korean newspaper says North Korea behind attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges

The firm's analysis discovered in May that users in North Korea had begun to mine Bitcoin.

Cybersecurity firms including Secureworks suspect North Korea to be behind the Lazarus group, which they link to a £60 million cyber heist previous year at the Bangladesh central bank and a 2014 attack on Sony's Hollywood studio.

Uncovered by Secureworks, the attacks have targeted employees at at least one London-based cryptocurrency company, in what researchers suggest is an attempt to steal bitcoin. Other interferences with several bitcoin exchanges in South Korea have also traced back to North Korea.

A single unit of bitcoin is now worth over $17, 500, making it a valuable target for hackers and cyber criminals.

North Korea has been interested in Bitcoin for sometime. (Figure 1) The email contains a Microsoft Word document with an embedded malicious macro that, when enabled, creates a separate decoy document (the CFO Job Lure), that is shown to the recipient (Figure 2).

The Lazarus cybercrime group is mounting an ongoing scheme to steal the online credentials of bitcoin industry insiders, a report published by researchers at USA cyber security firm Secureworks's Counter Threat Unit (CTU) said.

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See also: What is phishing?

Those who clicked on the hiring link were infected by malicious code from an attached document in the email that installed software to take remote control of a victim's device, allowing hackers to download further malware or steal data.

The fake job description looks to be a copy and paste of a similar legitimate role. This has led to the Secureworks Counter Threat Unit attributing it to Lazarus and North Korea with "high confidence".

"The interesting thing here is that the technique and the tactics being used since last summer mark a change in the nature of the lure and the nature of the targeting".

"Cyber-criminals are increasingly looking to monetize their efforts, and with the recent increase in Bitcoin valuation it's not surprising that they're after such targets, especially since phishing campaigns are increasingly able to bypass legacy email filters and gateways", Eyal Benishti, founder and CEO of IRONSCALES, told Infosecurity via email. Although the companies have become a go-to destination for investors to buy and mine Bitcoin, they're also a major target for hackers.

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