Recently, North Korea has significantly intensified its efforts on the cyber front. Kim Jong Un’s hackers stole $ 1.3 billion and tried to steal data on the Pfizer vaccine.
North Korea has significantly intensified its efforts on the cyber front. Sanctions require finding creative ways to make money, albeit illegally. The main way for Kim Jong Un is through the Internet.
The US government has even accused North Korean hackers of stealing cryptocurrency
Officially, Pyongyang reports zero cases of coronavirus in the country, but Western and South Korean analysts believe – COVID-19 has long circulated freely in a closed country. Attempts by the North to steal Pfizer-BionTech vaccine documentation from the West and the constant disappearances of Kim Jong Un and his family are suspicious. And when they are photographed, they do not have a mask (as in the whole environment).
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However, among the intelligence community of South Korea there is no consensus on this attempt, reports CNN. MP Ha Te Ken told reporters that he and other members of the intelligence committee had been informed of the hacking by the National Intelligence Service (NIS).
But NIS denied: “The report concerned general attempts to steal the development of coronavirus vaccines, no companies were listed, including Pfizer.” Exploration of the South did not say at a briefing in the National Assembly on Pfizer’s breakup from the North, added with surprise in the department.
DPRK hackers are becoming more successful and daring / Collage Market Watch
In response, Ha posted a copy of his notes on the Web, which clearly indicated the discussion of the fact of the attack. “I wouldn’t be able to do them if the topic wasn’t discussed,” he told CNN. It is unknown at this time when the attack took place (if any). And in general, this is not the first such attempt – The DPRK has been trying to obtain information since the beginning of the epidemic about COVID-19.
Seoul’s new plan
An unusual plan was born in Seoul to help a poor northern relative: to produce the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine and transfer it to the DPRK. It was voiced by the governor of the province of Gangwon, Seun Choi Moon, for the Russian vaccine. Allegedly, this will help improve inter-Korean ties. However, such an operation will require “creativity and courage,” the official added.
Risky game for South Korea – to pass the Russian vaccine to the North / Photo TRT World
North Korea is trying to reduce its humanitarian dependence on the South, so such “vaccine diplomacy” will be a difficult task, if it is approved at all. Russia formally supports the DPRK, but does not play a very active role in the region, shifting almost all the responsibility on China’s shoulders. However, in some places Moscow helps Pyongyang: for example, by rail or the Internet (which is still banned there).
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In November 2020, biotechnologists from GL Raplha agreed with Russia on the production of their coronavirus vaccine. “If Russia intervenes in its provision, there is a high probability that the South Korean government will take a step,” said Hong Ming, a senior fellow at the State Institute of National Unification of Korea.
Pyongyang has repeatedly stated that in order to improve the situation, Seoul must end “hostile policies” and abandon the alliance and joint exercises with the United States. And here, even Russia will not really be able to earn anything if the DPRK closes its doors.
Microsoft has revealed one tactic: to attack vaccine manufacturers in disguise as WHO workers. Most attempts were unsuccessful, they were blocked, but their number increased by 32% compared to 2020. Against Astra Zeneca used another – fake job offers. The UN reported illegal capture by the North $ 316.4 million from 2019 to 2020.
This money was most likely used to finance Kim’s nuclear and missile programs and to obtain the much-needed currency. The United States has indicted three North Korean hackers: John Chang Hyuku, Kim Il Sung and Pak Jin Hyuku of the General Intelligence Agency. They allege “computer fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.”
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North Koreans are the leading robbers of state-owned banks in the 21st century. Only they do not use pistols, but keyboards. This is a criminal syndicate regime with a flag. Hundreds of millions of dollars are stolen for state resources,
Said John Demers, Deputy Attorney General for International Security.
Interestingly, Canadian citizen Galeb Alamauri recently acknowledged his assistance to the Kim Jong Un regime in a money laundering scheme. Another similar process began in Australia.
According to the indictment, hackers tried to steal from their victims “cash or cryptocurrency” about $ 1.3 billion. Banks in Malta, Pakistan, Poland, the United States, Vietnam and the Philippines, online casinos and bitcoin companies have been affected.
When the situation in the world has changed (approximately from December 2020 or January 2021 – 24), Pyongyang cyber army transferred to counter pandemic and obtain any data on vaccines. And although the COVAX initiative promises to hand over 2 million doses to the Hermetic Kingdom, the DPRK is doing its best to get more.
Kim Jong Un invests in modern technology no less than in missiles / Photo Scroll.in
To prevent an epidemic, the North severed most ties with the outside world (of which there were few). Closing the border with China – the only ally and patron – hit the economy of the state very hard, where the health care system is in an almost destroyed state.
Although Dr. Ki Pak from the Korean Health Project at Harvard Medical School told CNN an interesting fact: during his visit to the DPRK, he was allegedly shown “technology for manipulating and merging genes.”. However, if there are really very few patients in the country, it will be difficult to test the vaccine properly.. Foreign trials are illegal and will violate sanctions against Kim.
Even with a Pfizer-like vaccine, it is unlikely that the North will have the capacity to store (at minus 75 Celsius) and transport such fragile material. A more practical point of view suggests that The DPRK wants to make more money by reselling technology than by using it.
Fool the pros: how the DPRK bypasses cybersecurity
Cybersecurity researchers from Europe, the United States and China have begun receiving Twitter messages from Zhang Guo’s account. But there was no real person behind him, at least not alone. It was the North Korean government, writes the publication WIRED. In a conversation with a pro, they were interested in the vulnerabilities of Windows and Google.
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It was a screen to force a potential victim to download the malware or follow the link to the blog, where the virus was also waiting.
This is how the campaign of social engineering attacks unfolded, Google showed. The goal was compromising recognized experts and stealing their research. On the other hand, they knew English well and the working hours of the targets. In general, such behavior was “brazen and unique”, but not very exceptional, say the pros.
“This is a new way of social engineering,” said the tech giants. They came through Microsoft Visual Studio. It is a developer tool for actually writing software. Some links even led to videos on Youtube.
The technical side of the attacks
As soon as someone downloads a virus product, the malicious library immediately begins to communicate and transmit data with the server command and control of attackers, explains the profile edition.
Some experts admitted that they did, although most took special measures, such as modeling “computer inside the computer” so that “no monster escaped from the laboratory” (meaning potentially dangerous programs and files – 24). It is now clear that the screen in the DPRK is as dangerous a weapon as ballistic missiles. And it brings a lot of money.
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