US Cybersecurity Firm Accuses North Korea Of Sponsoring Scam Coins

A US-based security firm has accused North Korea of indulging in shady practices in the cryptocurrency ecosystem by sponsoring at least two scam coins.

The allegation is contained in a report by the security firm Recorded Future which is titled “Shifting Patterns in Internet Use Reveal Adaptable and Innovative North Korean Ruling Elite.”

In January 2018, North Korea made the news for some negative reasons. The same US cybersecurity firm, Recorded Future linked a North Korean hacking group, Lazarus to various attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea. The attacks were reported to have occurred in late 2017, and one of the cases mentioned was the attack on Coinlink, which is based in South Korea.

According to the January 2018 report by Recorded Future’s Insikt Group, North Korean government actors, specifically Lazarus Group, continued to target South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges and users in late 2017, before Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s speech and subsequent North-South dialogue. The malware employed shared code with Destover malware, which was used against Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014 and the first WannaCry victim in February 2017.

Details of the research is contained in a report entitled “North Korea Targeted South Korean Cryptocurrency Users and Exchange in Late 2017 Campaign.”

In June 2018, the same research group identified a coin called Interstellar as one of the scam coins backed by North Korea. Interstellar has undergone a series of rebranding so far, which has seen the coin appear in the form of HOLD, HUZU and Stellar (this is different from the XLM token).

Marine Chain is the second coin called out by the Insik Group. The coin which is claimed to be implemented within the maritime industry as a tokenization tool for vessels that can be owned or used by multiple parties was claimed to be fraudulent by the state of Ontario, Canada.

Several users of the website have registered complains, raising alarm over huge funds being lost on the platform which is suspiciously hosted across four different IP addresses.

Meanwhile, North Korean leaders have also been discovered to be mining both Bitcoin (BTC) and privacy-oriented altcoin Monero (XMR), while at a limited or relatively small scale.

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