North Korean hacker attack on Israeli crypto firm said thwarted

Report says money would have been used to fund sanctioned state’s nuclear program; attack on unnamed company reportedly utilized ‘unfamiliar tools’

In this October 8, 2019 file photo, a woman types on a keyboard in New York. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)
In this October 8, 2019 file photo, a woman types on a keyboard in New York. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

North Korean hackers attempted to steal money from an Israeli crypto firm in an attack that was described as “professional and sophisticated,” Channel 12 news reported Monday.

According to the report, the North Koreans posed as a Japanese supplier of the unnamed company in an attempt to gain access to the funds.

The hack was stopped by personnel from cybersecurity firm Konfidas, the report said.

The report said that the attack last week used “unfamiliar tools” that had “set off alarm bells in Israel.”

According to the report, if the hack had been successful, the funds would have been used for the development of Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

It was unclear whether the assessment was made based on evidence, or was an assumption on the basis of past hacks by North Korea.

Photo provided on Oct. 10, 2022, by the North Korean government purports to show a missile test at an undisclosed location in North Korea, taken sometime between Sept. 25 and Oct. 9. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

Last year, a leaked confidential UN report said North Korea had stolen more than $300 million worth of cryptocurrencies through cyberattacks to support its weapons programs in the face of sanctions.

Financial institutions and exchanges were hacked to generate revenue for Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development, the document said, with the vast majority of the proceeds coming from two thefts in 2020.

The North is accused of a huge, $81 million cyber-heist from the Bangladesh Central Bank, which the BBC said would have been a $1 billion robbery if it had gone to plan.

North Korea is also accused of the theft of $60 million from Taiwan’s Far Eastern International Bank.

Pyongyang’s hackers were blamed for the 2017 WannaCry global ransomware cyberattack, which infected some 300,000 computers in 150 nations, encrypting user files and demanding hundreds of dollars from their owners for the keys to get them back.

Pyongyang’s cyberwarfare abilities first came to global prominence in 2014 when it was accused of hacking into Sony Pictures Entertainment as revenge for “The Interview,” a satirical film that mocked leader Kim.

In the attack, several unreleased movies as well as a vast trove of confidential documents were posted online.

Pyongyang has denied the accusations, saying it has “nothing to do with cyber-attacks.”

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