WASHINGTON, August 7 -- North Korea has raised up to $2 billion for its weapons of mass destruction programs through cyberattacks on cryptocurrency operators and overseas banks, a report compiled by a panel of the U.N. sanctions committee on the country showed Monday.
"Democratic People's Republic of Korea cyber actors, many operating under the direction of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, raised money for its WMD programs with total proceeds to date estimated at up to 2 billion U.S. dollars," the panel of independent experts said in the report, according to a portion obtained by Kyodo News. "In particular, large scale attacks against cryptocurrency exchanges allowed the DPRK to generate income in ways that are hard to trace and subject to less government oversight and regulation than the traditional banking sector," the report said. The DPRK is the acronym for North Korea's official name. According to the report, the panel looked into at least 35 cases of cyberattacks in 17 countries including Chile, India, Malaysia, South Africa and South Korea. The investigation showed "a marked increase in the scope and sophistication of cyber activities including attacks in violation of the financial sanctions," it added. The findings underscore that cash-strapped North Korea has resorted to cyberattacks as a means to acquire foreign currency amid continued international sanctions.
Additionally, the panel said in the report that North Korea's Munitions Industry Department -- a designated entity involved in supervising the country's nuclear and ballistic missile programs -- has been using its subordinate corporations to place IT workers abroad to earn foreign currency. Despite international sanctions, North Korea "enhanced its overall ballistic missile capabilities" through missile launches in May and July, the report said. Pyongyang also continued to violate sanctions "through illicit ship-to-ship transfers" in procurement of WMD-related items and luxury goods, and "as a primary means of importing refined petroleum," it said. The sanctions committee operates under the mandate of the U.N. Security Council.
LONDON, June 26 -- Bitcoin jumped to its highest in eighteen months on Wednesday on safe-haven investment flows and growing expectations that Facebook’s Libra could turn cryptocurrency investments mainstream.
“It obviously does appear to be benefiting from some sort of flows that gold is benefiting too,” said Michael Hewson, chief market strategist at CMC Markets. “You’ve got all this stuff about Libra going on which is renewing interest in bitcoin”. Bitcoin traded last at $12,485 after reaching a high of $12,935 earlier in the Asian session. So far this year, the cryptocurrency has nearly tripled in value after being in the doldrums last year.
TEL AVIV, June 25 -- Hackers have broken into the systems of more than a dozen global telecoms companies and taken large amounts of personal and corporate data, researchers from a cyber security company said on Tuesday, identifying links to previous Chinese cyber-espionage campaigns.
Investigators at U.S.-Israeli cyber security firm Cybereason said the attackers compromised companies in more than 30 countries and aimed to gather information on individuals in government, law-enforcement and politics. The hackers also used tools linked to other attacks attributed to Beijing by the United States and its Western allies, said Lior Div, chief executive of Cybereason. “For this level of sophistication it’s not a criminal group. It is a government that has capabilities that can do this kind of attack,” he told Reuters. A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said he was not aware of the report, but added “we would never allow anyone to engage in such activities on Chinese soil or using Chinese infrastructure.” Cybereason declined to name the companies affected or the countries they operate in, but people familiar with Chinese hacking operations said Beijing was increasingly targeting telcos in Western Europe.
Western countries have moved to call out Beijing for its actions in cyberspace, warning that Chinese hackers have compromised companies and government agencies around the world to steal valuable commercial secrets and personal data for espionage purposes. Div said this latest campaign, which his team uncovered over the last nine months, compromised the internal IT network of some of those targeted, allowing the attackers to customize the infrastructure and steal vast amounts of data. In some instances, they managed to compromise a target’s entire active directory, giving them access to every username and password in the organization. They also got hold of personal data, including billing information and call records, Cybereason said in a blog post. “They built a perfect espionage environment,” said Div, a former commander in Israel’s military intelligence unit 8200. “They could grab information as they please on the targets that they are interested in.”
Cybereason said multiple tools used by the attackers had previously been used by a Chinese hacking group known as APT10. The United States indicted two alleged members of APT10 in December and joined other Western countries in denouncing the group’s attacks on global technology service providers to steal intellectual property from their clients. The company said on previous occasions it had identified attacks it suspected had come from China or Iran but it was never certain enough to name these countries. Cybereason said: “This time as opposed to in the past we are sure enough to say that the attack originated in China.” “We managed to find not just one piece of software, we managed to find more than five different tools that this specific group used,” Div said.
"but not everyone is happy as environmentalists are concerned about bitcoin mining's damaging effect on the land as the cryptocurrency's value halves"
REYKJAVIK, April 15 -- Marco Streng first visited Iceland to solve a simple problem. His bitcoin-computers were using ever more energy and the remote North Atlantic island had massive amounts of electricity at inexpensive rates.
He travelled no more than three kilometres from the airport terminal to an abandoned airstrip built by allied forces in World War II. This was in 2014 and the barren, windswept ground then seemed like an unlikely place for a financial district. The strip is now where international companies "mine" for bitcoins and other virtual currencies. Powerful computers, stacked inside long and grey warehouses, use more electricity than all Icelandic homes combined, according to a local energy firm.
"People don't give me a funny look any more when I explain my plans," Streng said. Raised in Bavaria, Germany, the 29-year-old was a maths prodigy on a glowing academic track until he began collecting digital coins. Being a bitcoin entrepreneur is the only job Streng has ever held. The new industry's relatively sudden growth is yet raising serious concerns for its environmental impact. Iceland's energy comes from hydroelectric dams and geothermal power plants, creating electricity without carbon emissions. But this "green" energy is not entirely environmentally friendly. Hydroelectric dams sink untouched land under water and alter rivers and waterfalls. Geothermal power plants are built over natural hot spring areas, spoiling the unique landscape.
"Iceland still has one of the biggest wilderness areas in Europe," said environmentalist Tomas Gudbjartsson, protesting the expansion of energy-infrastructure. "We will simply destroy these areas if we continue." Energy demand has developed because of the soaring cost of producing and collecting virtual currencies. Computers are used to make the complex calculations that verify a running ledger of all the transactions in virtual currencies around the world. In return, the miners claim a fraction of a coin not yet in circulation. In the case of bitcoin, a total of 21 million can be mined, with about 3.3 million left to create. As more bitcoins enter circulation, more powerful computers are needed to keep up with the calculations - and that means more energy.
According to Dutch bitcoin analyst Alex de Vries, who operates a Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index on the website Digiconomist, bitcoin energy consumption is still on the rise globally, after receding late last year following a drop in value. Earlier this month, authorities in China, where coal-rich regions host the world's biggest cryptocurrency mining farms, announced plans to crack down on the industry completely, claiming massive energy waste and pollution. The move is expected to load pressure on Iceland and other areas still welcoming the business. "They are great customers," said Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson, business development manager at the local energy firm HS Orka, as he praised the bitcoin farms for steady and stable energy usage. "The computers are just always on, always running on maximum capacity." HS Orka provides electricity to the southwestern Reykjanes peninsula where the cryptocurrency "farms" are largely based. Over the past year, the region's energy supply has been nearly exhausted and HS Orka is expanding its capacity with a hydroelectric dam in the remote Tungufljot river, near the Great Geysir hot spring tourist attraction.
NEW YORK, December 1 -- As reported by Ethereum World News previously, Bitcoin (BTC) and its altcoin brethren posted a strong performance in recent days, with BTC surging convincingly above $4,000 on Wednesday.
While the asset held its value for over 24 hours, on Friday morning, following a short stint of range trading between $4,100 and $4,300, BTC faltered, stumbling and falling under $4,000 for the third time in a few weeks. In a matter of four hours, BTC fell from $4,225 to a daily low at $3,900, a ~7% decline, which seemingly came unprompted. Altcoins quickly followed the market leader, with industry darlings, XRP, Ethereum (ETH), Stellar Lumenx (XLM), and dozens of others posting mid-single-digit losses around 5-6%. As a result of this sell-off, a common sight in recent weeks, the aggregate value of all crypto assets fell to $130.6 billion, down from the $140 billion weekly high established on Wednesday.
Bitcoin’s most recent move under $4,000 comes just days after some optimists claimed that the worst was behind this asset class, recently called the best performing by Anthony Pompliano of Morgan Creek Digital.
And as such, analysts took to their usual soapboxes to tout their most recent claims, some of which were foreboding and painted a dismal picture for Bitcoin. A series of analysts at U.K.-based FX Pro Insights, a market research firm, told MarketWatch that the sudden move under $4,000 was catalyzed by short-term traders looking to secure profits, rather than an underlying fundamental factor.
The forex-centric analysts went on to pose a rhetorical, yet intriguing million-dollar question, asking if Bitcoin truly bottomed at $3,400 last week, the lowest the asset has been since mid-September 2017 post-China crackdown on cryptocurrencies. This sentiment interestingly lines up with other industry insiders, many of which claim that while BTC has suffered already, there could be one leg lower, before a long-term bottom is truly established. Michael Bucella, an executive at Goldman Sachs’ Canada branch turned into a BlockTower partner, recently took to CNBC to claim that while bitcoin is nearing the end of its “distress cycle,” the next phase will be a violent capitulation before a rapid rebound.
SHANGHAI, November 22 -- The recent sharp decline of the Bitcoin has making many miners in China hard to make money, as the price has fallen below the cost of mining for some in the country, leaving some with no choice but to "shut down".
Accordin to the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp, Bitcoin briefly fell to $4,237 before climbing back to over $4,700 on Tuesday, slumping as much as 17 per cent within 24 hours. The price for the cryptocurrency in China has dropped below 30,000 yuan.