Looks like even Kim Jong-un recognizes the potential of cryptocurrencies.
A new report by the security and threat report company FireEye claims that starting in May 2017 North Korea switched its hacking goal priorities to cryptocurrency exchanges from their previous target of banks and “competition's” networking and communication systems.
According to the report, state-sponsored hacking units have focused on at least three different exchanges and attacked them with methods the traces of which match those left behind during the great PEACHPIT attack of 2016.
What we know for certain is that in April of 2016 at least $5 million USD were stolen from Yapizon, a prominent South Korean exchange, while media reported a “billion plus” theft of South Korean won from Bithumb.
If we also take into account the fact that this year Kaspersky discovered a clear link between North Korea and the various attacks on banks and cryptocurrency companies, NK's interest in cryptocurrencies becomes readily apparent.
While the usefulness of cryptocurrency in the hands of such a regime is at first glance questionable, one needs only to remember that most exchanges in that area still don't have money laundering laws in place for these types of payouts, thus allowing for unregulated extraction of funds. Should NK be able to transfer the stolen cryptocurrency from victimized exchanges to clean ones, they'll be able to exchange it for a more anonymous type. This will, in turn, allow them access to foreign cash – something they're in dire need of for their pre-war funding efforts, especially as UN sanctions dry up their reserves.