Showing posts with label north korea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label north korea. Show all posts

Two Crypto 'Mixing' Sites Sanctioned - Now ILLEGAL For US Citizens to Access after They Allegedly Laundered Millions for North Korean Hackers...

By dividing a user's deposit into a random number of parts and distributing those pieces to other users, a cryptocurrency "mixer" essentially muddles up the transactions of individuals who make deposits to them. In exchange, you receive the same amount back (less fees) from other anonymous users.

Tracking stolen cryptocurrency becomes difficult since it may rapidly change hands from one person to dozens when 'mixed'.

Tornado.Cash joins on the list of mixer websites that are now forbidden for US citizens to access after being sanctioned by the US Treasury today.

The US Treasury estimates that since Tornado's inception in 2019, more than $7 billion in virtual currency has been laundered on the platform.

However, it's the $455 million from the "Lazarus Gang," a hacker group supported by the North Korean government, is what officials find most upsetting.

The sanctions also covered 44 wallets, making it prohibited to receive or send money to any those addresses.

Tornado Cash made an effort to abide by the rules, but ultimately failed.

In attempts to comply with the US government but still function for it's users, Tornado Cash implemented improvements like a screening tool to stop money from travelling between it and bitcoin wallets that officials say are tied to illegal activity.

Despite that, the Lazarus Group and other hackers were still able to transmit money to Tornado Cash for money laundering, according to a law enforcement investigation of open cryptocurrency transactions, the official added.

“Despite public assurances otherwise, Tornado Cash has repeatedly failed to impose effective controls designed to stop it from laundering funds for malicious cyber actors on a regular basis and without basic measures to address its risks,”
Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement. “Treasury will continue to aggressively pursue actions against mixers that launder virtual currency for criminals and those who assist them.”

Treasury officials added that they hope this motivates the private sector and partner nations to help in regulating illegal use of crypto.

Author: Mark Pippen
London News Desk 
Breaking Crypto News

North Korea's 2nd Annual Crypto Conference is Almost Here... And You Better NOT Be There!

Editors Note: The UN has issued warnings against attending an upcoming cryptocurrency conference in North Korea, claiming that to do so would be in violation of sanctions against the Hermit Kingdom.

Last year, Ethereum Foundation developer Virgil Griffith found out just how serious these warnings should be taken.  He was charged with allegedly violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act for attending the conference and giving an educational presentation on blockchain tech.

To be honest, the US government may be right here.  While we believe Virgil had nothing but good intentions, when you go to "teach blockchain and cryptocurrency" in a country where it's citizens are forbidden to use it - you're teaching the government and military.

We hope everything is taken into account, and the US government realizes Virgil was blinded by passion for the tech, excited to be able to spread the word anywhere, and simply didn't evaluate the circumstances as much as he should have.

This year's NK conference takes place Feb 22nd in Pyongyang.

Video courtesy of RT

A North Korean Cryptocurrency is Coming, According to Foreign Ministry Official...

North Korea is in the early stages of developing its own cryptocurrency, says Alejandro Cao de Benos, the foreign ministry official also in charge of the North Korean cryptocurrency conference.

Pyongyang has always shown interest in cryptocurrencies, and the country recently brought together local experts with foreign companies at its first blockchain and cryptocurrency conference held in April.

The only additional details Alejandro was able to provide was that they "are still in the early stages of the creation of the token. We are now in the phase of studying the assets that will give it value, but it will be like bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies."

Russia, along with Iran and have expressed interest in creating national cryptocurrencies in the past, which their leaders paint as tools to counter US financial power - and Venezuela already has.

With this comes what will be their largest challenge - getting other countries to use it. Countries that are on friendly terms with the US and other western nations would likely join in banning the use of cryptocurrencies created with the intent of bypassing their influence.

It wouldn't be the first time - last year US President Donald Trump banned Venezuela's cryptocurrency, the Petro Dollar. He also warned other nations that accepting it would be viewed as doing business with Venezuela, no differently than if they accepted regular fiat currency.

Countries considered 'hostile' and under sanctions already often do business with each other - changing the currency used to a cryptocurrency wouldn't bring in any new business.

A country is either willing to get on the 'bad side' of the US and other western nations, or they aren't.  Whether crypto is or isnt used will not be a deciding factor for something with massive economic implications.

Author: Adam Lee 
Asia News Desk

Fake News Alert: North Korea Funding Development Of Weapons Of Mass Destruction With Cryptocurrency, Claims UK Institute...

According to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), North Korea is using cryptocurrency to 'fund their weapons of mass destruction' development program.

So prepare yourselves to hear about it - because that's all some media outlets will need to justify running scary headlines, dishonestly presenting the story as a legitimate cause for concern.

However, it's important to remember - North Korea tested their first nuclear bomb in 2006 -  Bitcoin was invented 3 years later.

They cite recent cryptocurrency exchange hacks that were blamed on North Korea, however, it's also important to note that even if all North Korea was behind every hack they were accused of, the total would still be an extremely small fraction of their overall military budget.

Business with China, outsourcing labor, weapons sales, and counterfeiting drugs like Viagra all rank higher than cyber crime on the list of North Korean funding sources - and the 'cyber crime' catagory also includes non-crypto related hacks.

RUSI claims to be the "world's oldest independent think tank on international defense and security" and was founded in founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington.

Video courtsey of PTV.
Author: Ross Davis
E-Mail: Twitter:@RossFM

San Francisco News Desk

North Korea's digital army has a new target: Bitcoin! A look inside their latest, and still active operation...

They're known within the darknet underground as "The Lazarus Group" but intelligence sources say they're North Korea's digital army. You may have heard the name before in the infamous 2014 hack of Sony Pictures.

But their latest operation has a new target - cryptocurrency, and was discovered by cyber security company Secureworks.

The focus of the attack is executives at financial firms that hold and manage cryptocurrencies, and it works like this - an executive receives an e-mail, which states there's an opportunity to move up in the ranks, and become the company's Chief Financial Officer.

There is an attachment in the form of a Microsoft word file.  When opened, they recieve a notification "editing must be enabled to view the docunent" and when the user clicks "ok" it launches an embedded script that does 2 things.

First, it creates then opens harmless document - an actual job description to keep the user distracted and unsuspicious.

Second, secretly launches the instillation of a Trojan virus.

The harmless looking job description doc (Image: Secureworks)
The virus is designed to give full remote access to the hackers.  The computer is now completely under their control - they can log what's being typed, see what's on the screen, and even install more malware if they wish.

While remote access Trojans are nothing new and can even be bought and sold on underground darknet forums, what stands out about this one is it doesn't seem to be a variation of previously known Trojans - this one appears to have been freshly coded from scratch.

Evaluating the code, Secureworks Counter Threat Unit recognized something from previous North Korean operations - it's heavy reliance on the C2 protocol, which The Lazarus Group has used in the past to communicate to their main command and control servers.

The first discoveries of this new attack started in October, and are continuing today.

Those who feel they could be the target of such attacks are recommended to make sure macros are disabled in Microsoft Word, and require two-factor authentication on systems with sensitive data.

Author: Ross Davis
San Francisco News Desk

There's something seriously wrong with anyone helping North Korea get more involved in crypto...

North Korea has been accused of everything from "state sponsored hacks" of cryprocurrency wallets, to mining bitcoin to get around sanctions that restrict many nations from doing business with the regime.

Now the intelligence firm Recorded Future is reporting they're stepping up efforts within North Korea's college for the elite class of their society.

Pyongyang University, the same school that received blame for training North Korean hackers is allegedly now offing courses all about cryptocurrency.

They're even flying out experts to make guest presentations to the class members.

The founder of an Italian company called "Chainside" which says they provide an "easy-to-use solution to start accepting bitcoins in a snap" Federico Tenga, was recently one of those guests.

Why would anyone part of the legitimate side of the cryptocurrency world want to help a rogue nation, certainly not interested in doing anything positive, to learn more?

Federico Tenga took to twitter just hours ago and posted a tweet full of shocking ignorance, following VICE News mentioning his visit.

Seemingly unaware that nothing in North Korea, especially the University in it's capitol, isn't planned by the central government.

Governments have, and will continue to point at North Korea's invovment in cryptocurrencies as a reason for massive government regulations, or in worse case scenarios, outright bans.

Which makes it even more shocking and disappointing, is that anyone would be offering them help.

*UPDATE* this article sparked a debate between Federico and myself on twitter here.
Author: Ross Davis
San Francisco News Desk