North Korea could have profited by over $200million from bitcoin | City & Business | Finance

Priscilla Moriuchi, a former US National Security Agency officer warned North Korea may have 11,000 Bitcoins in storage that could help minimise the damage from crippling economic sanctions.

If North Korea cashed out their Bitcoin when the cryptocurrency peaked at $20,000 in December of last year Pyongyang could have made $220million.

But if Kim Jong-un had waited until January to cash out, this value would have dropped to $120million.

Ms Moriuchi, who now works for cyber threat intelligence firm Recorder Future, believes the rogue state either acquired the cryptocurrency through mining or hacking.

Ms Moriuchi told Radio Free Asia: “I would bet that these coins are being turned into something – currency or physical goods – that are supporting North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme.”

This is not the first time it has been claimed North Korea has either hacked cryptocurrencies or launched virus attacks.

In December, the US confirmed North Korea was behind the WannaCry ransomware attack back in May last year.

The cyber attack disrupted the NHS, as more than a third of trusts in England were disrupted by the ransomware according to National Audit Office (NAO).

NHS England said no patients data was stolen or compromised but at least 6,900 NHS appointments were cancelled.

WannaCry spread throughout 150 countries in a global attack.

North Korea hackers were accused of of illicity gaining access to the Bank of Bangladesh in 2015, where they transferred about $81million into bank accounts in the Philippines.

Recent reports have also suggested thestate-sponsored cyber army may have turned to cryptocurrencies instead of targeting traditional banking systems.

North Korea has denied all allegations of hacking, despite cyber security experts and defectors having claimed that students who show a flair for such matters are handpicked from top universities to join Bureau 121, the country’s cyberwarfare agency.

In November, it was reported the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology was teaching a specialised cryptocurrency course.

Loretta Napoleoni, a terrorist financing and money-laundering expert economist who recently released the book ‘North Korea, the Country We Love to Hate’, believes the country is already “ensconced” in cryptocurrency and are most likely using it for money-laundering.

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