North Korea has been connected to and accused of hacking attacks on banks all over the world.
The country’s hacking operations appear to be getting bolder, with increasing attacks on worldwide financial institutions.
Last year, hackers connected with North Korea attempted at hacking Polish banks and left behind a trail of their intention to steal from over 100 institutions all over the world, according to security experts.
North Korea has been linked to hacking attacks on financial institutions in approximately eighteen countries, with new reports coming in from Kaspersky on the matter.
Previously, bank security analysts noted four other similar hacking incidents conducted on banks located in Bangladesh, Ecuador, Vietnam, and in the Philippines.
The Kaspersky researchers claim that the same hacking attacks have also been attempted at institutions in several other countries, namely: Malaysia, India, Iraq, Kenya, Taiwan, Thailand, Uruguay, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Gabon, and Ethiopia.
The North Korean group behind the hacking is suspected to be Lazarus, who has been conducting such cyber crimes on financial institutions and banks all over the world in the past few years.
Researchers and security experts have speculated that the hacking attacks are being conducted in order to get money for advancing the country’s nuclear weapons program and to facilitate financial exchange through state-owned shell corporations.
Traced to North Korea
Kaspersky security experts have traced the hacking attacks to North Korea.
Typically, hackers will conduct cyber crimes using servers that are located far away from their country or home.
Kaspersky states that Lazarus operated by routing the signal through other countries including France and South Korea in order to setup the attack.
However, Kaspersky noticed an error – a brief connection coming in from North Korea.
In three of the recent attacks, digital security experts from Symantec claimed that the hackers had used a unique code, which was previously seen only in two other hacking attacks.
This was during the hacking attack made on Sony Pictures in December 2014 and the attacks on the banks and media organizations located in South Korea in 2013.
Officials of the US and South Korea accused North Korea for these attacks.
Linked Cyber Attacks
Recently the Symantec analysts stated that they have found evidence that tied the attack on a bank located in the Philippines in October 2016 with another attack on the Tien Phong financial institution located in Vietnam in December 2016.
The same cyber crimes have also been linked with another bank hacking in Bangladesh in February 2016, resulting in a theft of around $81 million.
According to Eric Chien of Symantec, the country is behind the cyber crimes in the earlier cases of Sony Pictures and in South Korea, then the following banking-related cyber crimes were also done by North Korea, noting that identical code has been used in all of the attacks.
Raising the Alarm
This is the first time that a nation has been suspected of committing such a hacking with the intent of financial gain.
The hacking has raised the alarm amongst financial institutions all over the world.
This is because the attack was able to access Swift, a secure financial messaging service provider.
Eleven thousand organizations and banks are using their system for the movement of currencies between various countries, making it one of the reasons why it became an attractive target for such cyber crimes.
The latest hacking on the banks of Bangladesh and in Southeast Asia will be the first time that a state actor has made use of hacking for financial gains.
North Korea has been in financial trouble for some time, due to shortage of food, sanctions, and many deprivations.
The GDP has been estimated at around $12 to $40 billion, though Pyongyang has not published any economic data.
The amount is very small when compared to the economic output of $1.4 trillion of South Korea.
According to Mr. Chien, if the rogue state is behind the hacking, the amount of $1 billion stolen from the central bank in Bangladesh amounts of 10% of their GDP – no meager amount, by any means.