North Korea and their less-than-sane leader, Kim Jong-un, have found that the eyes of the entire globe have been on them, unblinking. They wanted attention by acting like the tough guy on the block and they got it. Now when people think of the country, images of nuclear missile testing, hateful news rhetoric and human rights abuses on par with the Gulag are all thought of whenever anyone hears the nation’s name in the headlines. In all of the chaos surrounding the awkward country, most have forgotten that they supposedly hacked Sony (we are told). Now it seems that they have hacked banks in 18 other countries, too.
A Russian cyber security firm known as Kaspersky uncovered these problems, according to Blasting News. It is said that researchers from there made the announcement while attending a conference on St. Maarten in the Caribbean. CNN also has been following this, and states that the stolen capital is likely being used to help NK achieve their nuclear missile ambitions. It is their tendency to use ALL funds for such things that has lead most of the world to shun the dangerous nation. Even those countries like Malaysia, who have been friends of the cruel dictatorship, have since seen partnerships falter as Kim Jong-un gets more erratic and holds their nationals hostage.
— VOP Today News (@VOP_Today) April 5, 2017
Russia (who was “on the fence” regarding NK due to their closeness with China) is not going to be very motivated to defend the Asian nation in light of this. Putin does not have a history of helping countries that steal from or creep into his banking systems, for one thing. For another, “Bangladesh, the Philippines, Vietnam and Ecuador” won’t be offering much help, either. They were ALSO found to have been a victim of the thievery, according to The McClatchy DC Bureau. The sneaky heist is being called “Lazarus,” likely because NK have found a way to rise from the dead, as it were. This “walking dead” nation hit the banks of “Ethiopia, Costa Rica, India, Gabon, Iraq, Indonesia, Malaysia, Kenya, Poland, Nigeria, Thailand, Uruguay and Taiwan” as well. Yes, Ethiopia, also known as one of the poorest and more impoverished nations on the Earth.
Kaspersky has found that the actions are being done by routing the signal through the nations of France, Taiwan and South Korea. This would not have been noticed had the hacker not made a huge error “when a connection briefly showed to be made from that country,” reports are saying. The United States remains concerned about any findings from Kaspersky due to their ties to the government of Russia, but the group says that there is no “influence” from the Kremlin in these findings. The organization has a long history of exposing such deeds and are one of the leading tech security names in the world. Therefore, their reputation would rule them out as being dishonest in the matter since they would have too much to lose by fabricating such a story.
Most of the computers in North Korea only a few years ago were dinosaurs from decades past. Even today, their internet (called Kwangmyong) is slower than molasses in Alaska, and has a whopping 5,500 sites available. In America, the average five-year-old knows more about computers than at least 85% of the population of NK, who usually have no electricity outside of the capital, Pyongyang. The image of Kim Jong-un hacking from a Fischer Price computer springs to mind, as he calculates his data on a used abacus, but the truth is a bit different. Other than their few nukes, which will only get Kim dethroned if he uses them, their leader has few things that he or his nation can afford to do to anyone. Computers offer a cheap and easy solution to this issue.
In 2013, the hermit kingdom breached South Korean banks and even their broadcasts were targeted. We all know about the Sony hack in 2014 that uncovered enough dirt on the heads of that company in unrelated matters that led to some losing their positions. This was seen as a massive victory for North Korea since a movie with puppets managed to get their leader so angry that he wanted to start a nuclear war over it, sources claimed at the time. Yes…puppets. A silly film called “Team America” angered him THAT much. This is the man who not only runs a whole country, but also who has his chubby finger on the nuclear button with the intent to press it.
Furthermore, FireEye, Symantec and BAE Systems say that when they started hitting “global financial systems” in 2015, it was Vietnam who first suffered an attack. Banking institutions in Gabon and Nigeria were fleeced, though not all of the hacks were successful in pocketing stolen money. Still, it is known that the West is North Korea’s current target and they have gotten better at the art of hacking. They now have far more sophisticated tools, hackers, and experience acquired. NK have declared themselves their own Robin Hood and are showing no signs of stopping.
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a group that “tracks illegal behavior by North Korea” (which can be defined as MOST behavior by NK). Anthony Ruggiero, a senior fellow with the group, says that the money is most surely being used for the furthering of their nuclear program. This has been a constant and growing threat for the whole world. It is even being suggested that the focus on the West is something that NK is doing just to show force and cockiness in reply to deepening sanctions that the U.S. has put on the nation. Like most Communist and dictatorial regimes in the world, North Korea can not feed itself or even heat their own homes without other nations paying for it, so sanctions hurt them greatly. They have no knowledge or money for drilling, mining, etc. in most areas of the country.
Between the threats of nuclear detonation, what amounts to hostage taking of Malaysian nationals, and now hacking banks, the days of Kim Jong-un are most certainly numbered. The U.S media is already saying that Trump’s decisive attack on Syria after the chemical attacks from Assad (proven by satellite) was also a warning to North Korea. There have been far more people killed, beaten, tortured, and abused in NK than there are in Syria, even with ISIS parading around in their hateful caliphate. The world keeps getting distracted and pulled away from North Korea, but this is not something that they should keep relying on anymore. Some things just will NOT be overlooked and it can not be expected that many more warnings will be given.
Action comes next.