UN hits North Korea with sanctions as N. Korean hackers target Bitcoin

According to Bloomberg, the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted upon sanctions against North Korea on Monday. The sanctions come as the UN needed to act upon North Korea’s recent missile launch over Japan.

The sanctions imposed against North Korea are to: limit North Korea's oil imports, ban textile exports, end additional overseas laborer contracts, stop smuggling efforts, stop interactions with other countries and rules to target the government itself, according to a US official familiar with negotiations.

The sanctions heavily affects North Korea’s economy as the country cannot export a lot of its resources. According to researchers from FireEye Inc. (NASDAQ:FEYE) says that North Korea is carrying out cyber attacks to gain hold of cryptocurrencies.

FireEye stated that the company began to observe North Korea conducting cyber crimes, such as targeting banks and financial systems, back in 2016.. Now, this marks a second wave of attacks being carried out. Since early May, North Korea has attacked three South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges. It can potentially go back into April earlier this year, when four wallets on Yapizon, a South Korean exchanged was hacked, but there is no confirmation it was North Korea.

North Korea’s interest of bitcoins arise due to the fact the sanctions heavily impact its smuggling operations with counterfeit currency and gold. And with Bitcoins rising in popularity and price and also the fact that there is no government regulating bitcoins, it’s a clear sign why North Korea is targeting cryptocurrency. Bitcoin's value has jumped up nearly five times the price from the beginning of the year to the year’s high.

“We definitely see sanctions being a big lever driving this sort of activity,” said Luke McNamara, a researcher at FireEye and author of the new report. “They probably see it as a very low-cost solution to bring in hard cash.”

“They could compromise an exchange and transfer those bitcoins to other exchanges elsewhere in Asia or exchange them for a more anonymous cryptocurrency,” said McNamara. “There are variety of things they could do to cash out.”

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