World: Stolen money from cyberattacks makes up a third of the funds for North Korea's missile program, US official says

N Korea warns of security instability over US-S Korea drills

  N Korea warns of security instability over US-S Korea drills SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea has warned that the United States and South Korea will face “unprecedented” security challenges if they don’t stop their hostile military pressure campaign against the North, including joint military drills. North Korea views any regular U.S.-South Korean military training as an invasion rehearsal even though the allies have steadfastly said they have no intention of attacking the North. The latest warning came as Washington and Seoul prepare to expand their upcoming summertime training following the North’s provocative run of missile tests this year.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un during the groundbreaking for the construction of Pyongyang General Hospital on March 17, 2020, North Korea. API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images © API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un during the groundbreaking for the construction of Pyongyang General Hospital on March 17, 2020, North Korea. API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
  • One third of North Korea's missile program is funded by the country's cyberattacks.
  • A US official said cyberattacks are a "core driver" of North Korea's revenue and have become a major concern.
  • A 2022 UN report says that North Korean hackers walked away with more than $400 million in cryptocurrency during cyberattacks in 2021.

Millions of dollars stolen by North Korean hackers in cyberattacks, a major component of North Korea's asymmetric warfare capabilities, are being funneled into the country's illegal missile development programs, according to statements made by a White House official this week.

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Anne Neuberger, the White House's deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technologies, said Thursday the US estimates one-third of North Korea's missile program is funded by stolen money from cyberattacks.

"Given that cyber is such a core driver of revenue, it's something we must address," Neuberger said during a virtual conference hosted by the Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based think tank.

Neuberger said North Korea's cyber capabilities are a major concern not only because cyberattacks are a key source of revenue for the country, but also because they conduct destructive attacks and are "continuously innovating" in the way they use cyberattacks.

In a 2022 report, the UN security council's 1718 committee — named for the resolution that has imposed sanctions on North Korea since 2006 — wrote that cyberattacks on cryptocurrency remain a key revenue source for the government of North Korea. The panel cited a report from cybersecurity firm Chainalysis which showed "cyberactors" of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea stole $400 million in cryptocurrency in 2021 alone.

South Korea to lift decadeslong ban on North Korean media

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North Korea, wary of perceived threats to the security of the regime by the US and its allies, has invested heavily in developing an arsenal of short-, medium-, and long-range ballistic missiles, as well as conventional and nuclear warheads, among other combat capabilities.

This year, North Korea has conducted 31 missile tests, including one it claims was its first successful ICBM launch since 2017. In response, the US and South Korea have carried out joint-missile launches and will participate in expanded joint military training involving field exercises later this summer.

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