$9m in cryptocurrency stolen by N. Korea: Reports

A chain of block erupters used for Bitcoin mining.
A chain of block erupters used for Bitcoin mining.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL • South Korea's spy agency said North Korean hackers were behind attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges this year in which some 7.6 billion won (S$9.4 million) worth of cryptocurrencies were stolen, a newspaper reported yesterday.

The cyber attacks attributed to North Korean hackers also included the leaking of personal information from 36,000 accounts from the world's busiest cryptocurrency exchange Bitthumb in June, South Korea's major newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported, citing the country's National Intelligence Service (NIS).

Attacks also included the theft of cryptocurrencies from accounts at exchanges Yapizon, now called Youbit, and Coinis in April and September, it said.

The 7.6 billion won of stolen cryptocurrencies are now worth about 90 billion won, Chosun Ilbo reported. It also cited the NIS as saying that North Korean hackers had also demanded 6 billion won from Bitthumb in return for deleting the leaked personal information.

Another cyber attack on about 10 cryptocurrency exchanges by North Korean hackers in October, using e-mail containing malware, was thwarted by the Korea Internet Security Agency (KISA), the newspaper reported.

The NIS found that the malware used in hacking the exchanges was made with the same method as malware used in hacking Sony Pictures and the central bank of Bangladesh in 2014 and 2016 respectively, the Chosun Ilbo reported.

The NIS also said e-mail used in the attacks used North Korean Internet addresses, according to the Chosun Ilbo.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 17, 2017, with the headline '$9m in cryptocurrency stolen by N. Korea: Reports'. Print Edition | Subscribe