The United States has accused three North Korean computer programmers of massive cyber attacks. These attacks on banks in Asia, Mexico and Africa, among others, would at least have exploited over 1.3 billion dollars (over 1 billion euros) of money and cryptocurrencies. Also, a Hollywood film studio was a victim of an attack.
According to the U.S. Attorneys Office, the three suspects were also involved in developing the hostage software WannaCry 2.0. Among other things, the UK Health Service NHS was hit hard by this in 2017. With this software, the computer systems were shut down and only released after a payment was made.
In 2014, the hackers attacked Sony Pictures. They wanted to prevent the film The Interview from being released. In that comedy, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is killed. In addition, the hackers received a large number of passwords and email addresses from Sonys customers, contracts with actors and copies of passports. A month later, the US federal police FBI had sufficient evidence that it was an attack from North Korea.
The U.S. Justice announced the names of the threesome. Jon Chang Hyok (31), Kim Il (27), and Park Jin Hyok (36) worked for North Korean military intelligence at the time of the attacks. The Americans assume that they are still in North Korea today, but they also operated from China and Russia.
Exact amount not clear
The exact amount they took is unknown because in some cases the theft was stopped or reversed on time. In case of at least one attack in 2016, 81 million dollars (67 million euros) would have been seized. The National Bank of Bangladesh was a victim of that.
According to the US authorities, a resident of America with a Canadian background said he was guilty of laundering part of the hackers proceeds.
In a confidential United Nations report, North Korea has also stolen over 300 million dollars (260 million euros) of cryptocurrency in recent months. The money would be put into the development of nuclear weapons, the panel concluded that investigated the effectiveness of international sanctions against North Korea. Overall, over the years, the country is estimated to have stolen $2 billion.