The Biden administration is intensifying efforts to counter North Korean cyber operations, focusing on blocking the country’s ability to launder stolen cryptocurrency to fund its regime.
The administration has imposed sanctions and formed partnerships to crack down on North Korea’s crypto activities.
Poor regulation in the cryptocurrency industry makes it an easy target for North Korean hackers, who have stolen billions in digital money. (Trending: Prominent LGBTQ Activist Arrested Over Disturbing Charges)
Anne Neuberger, the National Security Council’s top cybersecurity official said, “In countering North Korean cyber operations, our first priority has been focusing on their crypto heists.”
“The stepped-up effort to blunt North Korea’s cyber operations is fueled by growing alarm about where the fruits of those attacks are going,” added Neuberger..
She insisted hacking has helped North Korea “either evade sanctions or evade the steps the international community has taken to target their weapons proliferation … their missile regime, and the growth in the number of launches we’ve seen.”
Adam Meyers, a senior vice president at cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, said, “People tend to think, … how could the quote-unquote ‘Hermit Kingdom’ possibly be a serious player from a cyber perspective?”
“But the reality couldn’t be further from the truth,” he explained.
“The goal is to aggressively cut the profitability of the regime’s hacking,” said Neuberger.
U.S. officials believe that addressing the intersection of hacking and cryptocurrency is crucial to slowing North Korea’s weapons programs.
Pyongyang’s hackers have shown technical ingenuity and proficiency in stealing cryptocurrency, posing a significant challenge to the West.
Mick Baccio, global security adviser at security firm Splunk, claimed what North Korea “is able to do on a global scale, no one has replicated.”
While North Korea’s cyber activities have mainly focused on stealing money, experts warn of the potential for widespread digital disruption.
The administration’s goal is to cut off the profitability of North Korea’s hacking to deter future cyber threats.