Given the current climate that North Korea finds itself in, it’s normal to anticipate desperate attempts to acquire capital anonymously to circumvent the sanctions that keep squeezing its economy.
The South Korean National Intelligence Service spoke to Reuters today to confirm that the hermit nation is “probably” behind the attack on Japanese exchange Coincheck.
Last month, the exchange suffered a breach and hackers stole more than half a billion dollars in NEM cryptocurrency.
The exchange has since announced that it will restore a large portion of the stolen funds, amounting to 48.8 billion yen, which is almost $450 million.
An anonymous official from the NIS told Reuters that “it’s possible, but not a probable scenario backed by evidence” with regards to North Korean involvement in these events.
Kim Byung-kee, a member of the Parliament’s intelligence committee, recalls similar past actions in which North Korea attacked exchanges in the country.
“North Korea sent emails that could hack into cryptocurrency exchanges and their customers’ private information and stole [cryptocurrency] worth billions of won,” he said.
Just a few days ago, Japanese authorities from the Financial Services Agency (FSA) raided Coincheck’s offices, exploring how the exchange responded to the attack.
It’s worth noting that this was the first-ever raid of this kind performed on Japanese soil.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said today that the government is currently on an information-gathering mission with regards to North Korea’s cyber attack capabilities, but there’s no word on what they’ve found so far.
“We acknowledge how we deal with cyber attack is an important issue for our nation’s security, crisis management and the economic growth. We would like to respond in cooperation with the international community with a sense of urgency,” he said.
The Coincheck hack will go down in history as the most costly compromise to date of a Japanese exchange, followed by the Mt. Gox incident in 2014, in which over $450 million in Bitcoin were stolen from the platform.