Hack shuts down Seoul-based Bitcoin exchange, N. Korea suspected

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South Korean officials suspect that North Korea had something to do with a hacking attack that brought down a Seoul-based cryptocurrency exchange, called Youbit, earlier this week.

Hackers got away with 17 percent of Youbit’s total assets, the company stated on its website, although it did not reveal the total value of the seized assets.

Tuesday’s attack against Youbit is likely the latest in a string of high-tech attacks conducted by North Korea. The rogue regime has begun choosing cyberwarfare as its weapon of choice, as the country faces increased economic isolation and costly sanctions, the Wall Street Journal reported.

After the incident, Youbit announced that all users’ remaining assets would be marked down to 75 percent of their value, which clients could withdraw. The company suspended all trading and then filed for bankruptcy.

This was the second time Youbit was hacked. Back in April, nearly 4,000 bitcoins were stolen in a separate attack that South Korean officials also linked to North Korea, Reuters reported.

North Korea is apparently turning to hacking in order to raise money for the country’s nuclear war ambitions. Last year, Kim Jong Un’s cyber hackers stole $81 million from an account of the Bangladesh Central Bank.

North Korea’s financial problems will likely get even worse once the U.N. sanctions that were adopted in September become implemented in March 2018, the Institute for National Security Strategy predicted, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

The national security institute is affiliated with South Korea’s National Intelligence Service.

“In addition to further toughened sanctions, an increase in North Korea’s investment in conventional forces in the aftermath of military pressure stemming from the (South Korean) deployment of American strategic assets is forecast to hit the North Korean economy seriously sometime after March next year,” the institute said.

Homeland security adviser Tom Bossert wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed, published Monday night, that said North Korea was “directly responsible” for the WannaCry ransomware attack and will be held accountable for the damage it caused throughout the world.

Other hacking crimes against South Korea’s military and civilians have been perpetrated by North Korea.

In 2014, the United States formally accused North Korea of hacking Sony Pictures Entertainment over the movie, “The Interview,” which was a comedy centered around a plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader.

North Korea on Thursday denied that they’ve conducted any cyber attacks.

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