A U.S. court charged three North Korean hackers over cryptocurrency theft. The three computer engineers who formed the “Lazarus group” were accused of embezzling over $1.3 billion, with help from North Korean government officials.
According to the court documents, the three hackers Kim Il, Jon Chang Hyo, and Park Jin Hyok have allegedly been part of the Reconnaissance General Bureau — the North Korean military intelligence division.
The Lazarus group stormed victims’ computers with cyberattacks, phishing campaigns, ransomware attacks, and digital banks heists. Additionally, the hacker group was allegedly involved in money-laundering operations. Victims of the Lazarus group include Sony Pictures and large banks in the US. The hacks ran through a computer virus known as WannaCry Ransomware.
“Today’s unsealed indictment expands upon the 2018’s charges for the unprecedented cyberattacks conducted by the North Korean regime,” said the FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate
Furthermore, the Lazarus group developed sophisticated computer programmers that run infected cryptocurrency applications. The three hackers were able to develop a fraudulent blockchain platform.
“As laid out in today’s indictment, North Korea’s operatives, using keyboards rather than guns, stealing digital wallets of cryptocurrency instead of sacks of cash, are the world’s leading bank robbers,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
Mr. Demers added that the U.S. authorities are working on dismantling the hack and eradicating the malicious ransomware deployed by the Lazarus group. Demers added that authorities are working with agencies and “the family of norms abiding nations to do the same.”
North Korean authorities’ involvement in the hack
According to U.S. Secret Service Assistant Director Michael R. D’Ambrosio, the U.S. authorities are following up with the Lazarus group hack and its relation to the North Korean intelligence especially that cryptocurrencies schemes and hacks are becoming a concern to the nation.
“This case is a particularly striking example of the growing alliance between officials within some national governments and highly sophisticated cyber-criminals,” said Michael R. D’Ambrosio.
In conclusion, the U.S. court charged Jon, Park, and Kim with conspiracy to commit fraud and abuse, and the trio is facing a 5 years sentence. Additionally, the group is charged with conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud which can reach a sentence of 30 years in prison.