North Korean hackers targeting global financial institutions: U.S. Govt cyber alert

In a significant development, the U.S. government has issued a warning saying, North Korean hackers are increasingly targeting banks around the globe for fraudulent money transfers; they are also targeting ATMs to illegally withdraw cash.

The technical cyber security alert was jointly given by four different federal agencies, including the Treasury Department and FBI. They said, there is a resurgence in financially motivated hacking by North Korean hackers, following a lull in activity.

“Since February 2020, North Korea has resumed targeting banks in multiple countries to initiate fraudulent international money transfers and ATM cash outs,” reads the warning.

U.S. law enforcement agencies have named the hacking campaign “Fast Cash”; it is supposedly carried out North Korea’s spy agency, Reconnaissance General Bureau. While their operations have been visible to the said agencies since at least 2016, the number of hacks in terms of volumes and sophistication has gone up in recent months.

“North Korean cyber actors have demonstrated an imaginative knack for adjusting their tactics to exploit the financial sector as well as any other sector through illicit cyber operations,” said Bryan Ware, a senior cybersecurity official at the U.S. Homeland Security Department.

According to cybersecurity experts and foreign policy analysts, the cash-strapped North Korean government uses these tactics for funding purposes. North Korea faces expansive sanctions placed by many countries including the United States.

“The continued attacks are proof of the reliance the regime has on these funds, along with being a testament to their technical ability and determination,” said Vikram Thakur, a technical director for U.S. cybersecurity firm Symantec.

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