By abusing one of the methods called “mining” for obtaining virtual money, North Korea is conducting cyberattacks against personal computers and electric appliances without permission to earn money, the Sankei Shimbun learned on Jan. 11. It is possible that North Korea, which is struggling under economic sanctions imposed by the international community, is employing this method as a source of funds.
According to a report by AlienVault, a U.S. security company, software that installs a tool for mining the virtual currency called “Monero” was found. A computer virus with the software attached has been distributed through illegal websites and emails. The software is programmed to send earned virtual money to a server of Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang. In this way, infected personal computers turn into “automatic money-making machines.” According to the report, the software was developed on Dec. 24 last year.
Another security company, Trend Micro (Tokyo), also confirmed the existence of the software this year. The company pointed out the possibility that the cyberattack was not indiscriminate but specifically targeted web servers manufactured by Microsoft of the U.S..
According to CoinMarketCap – an online currencies exchange for virtual money – the market capitalization of Monero is about $5.9 billion as of the night of Jan. 11, making it the 14th largest in the world. The transaction anonymity of Monero is higher than Bitcoin, which makes it more difficult to trace (Abridged)