US charges three North Korean hackers for crypto attacks and WannaCry ransomware

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The Department of Justice prosecuted three hackers associated with the notorious Lazarus Group.

On Wednesday, the United States Department of Justice reported charges against three North Korean hackers.

In making the announcement, Attorney General John Demers denounced the North Korean scheme, the most prominent of which is the Lazarus Squad. Demers said the following:

“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.”

With a country largely sequestered from the international economy, North Korea’s hacking programme has been a crucial source of revenue. Many have related hacking revenue from sources such as the WannaCry malware and the Coincheck crypto exchange with the Nuclear Weapons Program. Demers has elaborated:

“The DPRK cyber threat has followed the money and turned its revenue generation sights on the most cutting edge aspects of international finance, including through the theft of cryptocurrency from exchanges and other financial institutions.”

The North Korean hacking programme has been subject to extensive scrutiny, both from the U.S. and abroad. As the country does not have widespread internet access, many cite China’s role in training North Korean hackers. Indeed, in March 2020 the U.S. approved two Chinese members of the Lazarus Party.

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