The United Nations is reportedly delving into a series of cyberattacks attributed to North Korea, which allegedly amassed a staggering $3 billion. These illicit funds are believed to have been funnelled into furthering the country’s nuclear weapons program, heightening concerns about the regime’s activities on the global stage.
A panel of independent sanctions monitors is currently scrutinizing 58 suspected cyberattacks targeting cryptocurrency-related companies between 2017 and 2023. According to excerpts from an unpublished U.N. report cited by Reuters, these attacks are estimated to have generated around $3 billion. The full report is expected to be released publicly later this month or early next month.
Despite these alarming revelations, the UN Security Council has encountered difficulties in reaching a consensus on further actions against North Korea. China and Russia have advocated for the easing of sanctions in a bid to coax North Korea back to denuclearization talks. However, despite existing sanctions, North Korea has managed to circumvent restrictions and access the international financial system to carry out illicit financial operations.
The investigation into North Korea’s cyberattacks aligns with previous warnings about the regime’s intentions to conduct military and cyber assaults, particularly during U.S. elections. The National Intelligence Service of South Korea had issued alerts regarding North Korea’s plans to disrupt elections in the U.S. and South Korea.
Furthermore, North Korea’s recent missile launches have exacerbated tensions, with the regime calling for intensified “war preparations.” In 2023 alone, hackers linked to North Korea targeted a record number of cryptocurrency platforms, siphoning over $1 billion in assets. According to blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, North Korea-affiliated hackers attacked 20 cryptocurrency platforms in 2023, marking the highest number recorded from 2016 to 2023.
The revelation of North Korea’s extensive cyber warfare capabilities and illicit financial activities underscores the persistent threat posed by the regime. As international efforts to address these challenges continue, the UN investigation serves as a stark reminder of the need for concerted action to counter North Korea’s destabilizing actions and uphold global security and stability.