United Nations experts said they are investigating at least 35 instances in 17 countries of North Koreans using cyber attacks to illegally raise money for weapons of mass destruction programs and they are calling for sanctions against ships providing gasoline and diesel to the country.
Last week, The Associated Press quoted a summary of a report from the experts which said that North Korea illegally acquired as much as $2 billion from its increasingly sophisticated cyber activities against financial institutions and crypto currency exchanges.
The lengthier version of the report, recently seen by the AP, reveals that neighboring South Korea was hardest-hit, the victim of 10 North Korean cyber attacks, followed by India with three attacks, and Bangladesh and Chile with two each.
Thirteen countries suffered one attack: Costa Rica, Gambia, Guatemala, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Nigeria, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Tunisia and Vietnam, it said.
The experts said they are investigating the reported attacks as attempted violations of U.N. sanctions, which the panel monitors.
The report cites three main ways that North Korean cyber hackers operate: attacks through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication or SWIFT system used to transfer money between banks, “with bank employee computers and infrastructure accessed to send fraudulent messages and destroy evidence,” Theft of crypto currency “through attacks on both exchanges and users” and “mining of crypto currency as a source of funds for a professional branch of the military.”
The experts stressed that implementing these increasingly sophisticated attacks “is low risk and high yield,” often requiring just a laptop computer and access to the internet.