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South Korea says North Korea won’t stop hacking its cryptocurrency exchanges

February 5, 2018

North Korea seems to have a new strategy to overcome international economic sanctions and raise millions of dollars: steal hard-to-trace cryptocurrency.

The news: State-sponsored hackers from North Korea pilfered cryptocurrency from South Korean exchanges last year worth “billions of won,” according to a member of South Korea’s parliament. That’s more than a million dollars, at the least. And the attacks haven’t stopped, either.

Previous form: Last September, cybersecurity firm FireEye said North Korean attackers had targeted at least three South Korean exchanges in 2017. Some investigators suspect North Korea was also behind a December heist that caused the Seoul-based exchange Youbit to collapse.

What’s next: National security issues will figure heavily in debates over cryptocurrency regulations. South Korea’s finance minister has assured investors that the government isn’t planning to ban cryptocurrency trading, but officials are still broadly contemplating a clampdown on the market. Oh, and you can expect other governments to follow in North Korea’s footsteps by using cryptocurrency to evade sanctions.

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