North Korea Begins Mining Bitcoin, and Attacking Digital Currency Exchanges

By Daniel Zo Bitcoin, North Korea

Chances are that you may have heard about the tensions going on between North Korea and the rest of the world. After all, this is mostly what the media has been focusing on during the last couple of months, and it’s surely understandable given the circumstances.

However, recent reports indicate that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is now taking an unexpected interest in Bitcoin and other digital currencies. With this in mind, it appears that the regime may be funding itself with the help of the cryptocurrency, as mentioned by an intelligence research firm. So far, the news on the matter indicates that North Korea has started mining Bitcoin on the 17th of May, in order to generate more revenue that could sustain the country. While it is hard to imagine that a country could sustain itself on bitcoin mining rewards alone, this statement isn’t too far-fetched, as we’re talking about a country, rather than a company, therefore they most likely have all the processing power they need to mine bitcoin efficiently.

North Korea

Just a few days ago, the UN Security Council decided to approve new sanctions for the country, many of which are considered to be the harshest yet- therefore, the oil imports have been capped, textile exports have been banned thoroughly and numerous overseas labour contracts have also been ended.

In a recent statement, the research company that made the claim mentioned that: ‘We weren’t able to determine the volumes, like how many bitcoin they can generate per certain time period. We could just see the activity. There is also a second hypothesis considered- perhaps, it isn’t the government itself mining bitcoin, but rather a family which can both afford it, but it also allowed by the regime, so still, someone in power. This is mostly due to the fact that citizens of North Korea do not have access to the World Wide Web, unless they are scientists, selected government officials, diplomats, or university students. They do however have a domestic internet, which can be used for accessing various government-approved websites and email.

This isn’t everything about North Korea though. In fact, other reports indicate that their hackers, which in the past, have been linked to numerous cyber-attacks throughout the world, are now targeting bitcoin, and exchanges for the digital currency. The cybersecurity firm known as FireEye mentioned that they have traced five different attacks on worldwide bitcoin exchanges, originating from North Korea. FireEye concluded that ‘“It should be no surprise that cryptocurrencies, as an emerging asset class, are becoming a target of interest by a regime that operates in many ways like a criminal enterprise. While at present North Korea is somewhat distinctive in both their willingness to engage in financial crime and their possession of cyber espionage capabilities, the uniqueness of this combination will likely not last long-term as rising cyber powers may see similar potential”.

Regardless, we cannot see a clear reason why bitcoin exchanges would be attacked. Perhaps it is linked with North Korea’s sudden interest in mining bitcoin?  Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.