North Korea Hijacks Computers to Mine Cryptocurrencies

by: The Knowledge Group

January 09, 2018


Cryptocurrencies‘ historic rise in price has apparently attracted the interests of one very controversial speculator: the North Korean regime. Faced with tough international sanctions, North Korea is forced to think outside the box when it comes to ways to bring cash into their struggling economy. One way they are now approaching this problem involves using hacked servers to mine cryptocurrency.

According to the South Korean government, a North Korean hacking unit called Andariel seized control of a server owned by a South Korean company in order to mine $25,000 worth of a cryptocurrency called Monero, and there’s every reason to believe that Andariel will continue to use the model of hacking foreign servers to mine cryptocurrency as a way to generate cash for the regime.

To understand how this process works – and how North Korea is using it to their advantage – we have to take a look at one of the pillars of cryptocurrency: mining. In order to validate transactions, cryptocurrencies rely on owners of private servers to use their computing power to solve complex algorithms. Each time an algorithm is solved, the owner of the server (or, in the case of North Korea, the group that hacked the server) is rewarded with an amount of the cryptocurrency.

For North Korea, hacking foreign servers to mine cryptocurrencies is a relatively simple way to generate funds. For investors in cryptocurrencies as well as the corporations being hacked, however, the consequences are not so promising. Should North Korea grow to be more successful in this operation, the potential for stricter regulations on cryptocurrencies is certainly there – regulations which could end up costing honest investors. At the very least, the potential gains for North Korea certainly increases the risk of cyberattack for companies who own servers powerful enough to mine large amounts of cryptocurrency.