North Korean hackers are ‘the world’s leading bank robbers,’ U.S. charges


It also incorporates earlier allegations about North Korea’s role in the massive Sony hack, which allegedly retaliated for the studio’s release of a satirical film about leader Kim Jong Un, and the WannaCry ransomware outbreak, which infected networks in 150 countries and may have caused as much as $4 billion in losses.

“North Korea’s operatives, using keyboards rather than guns, stealing digital wallets of cryptocurrency instead of sacks of cash, are the world’s leading 21st century nation-state bank robbers,” John Demers, the assistant attorney general for national security, told reporters during a press call.

In a second announcement on Wednesday, the U.S. charged a Canadian man, Ghaleb Alaumary, with helping North Korea launder money stolen through criminal schemes such as those contained in the new indictment. Alaumary, who already faces separate cybercrime charges in Georgia, is in U.S. custody and has pleaded guilty to the newly announced charges.

According to the North Korean indictment, from 2015 to 2019, the three hackers and their co-conspirators tried to steal money from banks in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Mexico, Malta and elsewhere by hacking into their networks and generating fraudulent transfers through a global financial platform. One of these intrusions, into the Bank of Bangladesh, netted them a record $81 million.

The hackers also stole approximately $112 million from cryptocurrency companies after infecting them with malware by tricking them into downloading fake trading applications, prosecutors alleged. On Wednesday, the FBI, the Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released a technical report about those applications.

“In most instances, the malicious application — seen on both Windows and Mac operating systems — appears to be from a legitimate cryptocurrency trading company, thus fooling individuals into downloading it as a third-party application from a website that seems legitimate,” the agencies said.

Prosecutors have obtained warrants to seize and return $1.8 million of the stolen cryptocurrency to a New York financial services firm, which they did not…

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