Internet Security Analysts: North Korea Is Planning a Global Bank Heist

Tuesday, March 28, 2017
By Paul Martin

27 Mar 2017

The New York Times published a report from Internet security firm Symantec that revealed startling ambitions on the part of hackers affiliated with North Korea.

According to the report, they have plans to rob over a hundred banks around the world, including “institutions like the World Bank, the European Central Bank and big American companies including Bank of America.”

An attack on over 20 Polish banks near the end of 2016 was evidently thwarted without any money being lost. When security analysts pulled apart the virus software sent to these banks, they discovered a huge list of Internet addresses for other financial institutions, making up the target list described by Symantec.

The Times discusses the size and desperation of North Korea’s cybercrime ring:

The list of targets, which has not been previously reported, is part of a growing body of evidence showing how North Korea, a country that is cut off from much of the global economy, is increasingly trying to use its cyberattack abilities to bring in cash — and making progressively bolder attempts to do so.

North Korea’s hacking network is immense, encompassing a group of 1,700 hackers aided by more than 5,000 trainers, supervisors and others in supporting roles, South Korean officials estimate. Because of the country’s poor infrastructure, the hackers typically work abroad, in places like China, Southeast Asia and Europe. Like other North Koreans allowed to work abroad, the hackers are constantly monitored by minders for possible breaches in allegiance to the government.

Thus far, the biggest score for the North Korean operation appears to be a hack of Bangladesh’s central bank, revealed by Bangladeshi authorities in May 2016. The $81 million stolen from the bank ended up in the Philippines, but investigators were certain from early in the investigation that the thieves were not from either Bangladesh or the Philippines.

Early indications suggested Chinese hackers might have been responsible for the attack, but Symantec researchers soon isolated malicious code linked to North Korea. Similar code and hacking techniques had previously been used against banks in Vietnam and Ecuador. According to the New York Times, analysts with the National Security Agency saw evidence the Bangladesh bank robbery was linked to the attack on Sony Pictures, which is generally seen as the work of North Korea.

The Rest…HERE

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