SEOUL, Sept. 28 (Korea Bizwire) – Some of the attacks reported on South Korean bitcoin exchanges earlier this year have been found to be from North Korean hackers, according to police.
The Korean National Police Agency said on Wednesday that North Korean hackers are responsible for the malware attack on e-mail accounts of officials of South Korean bitcoin exchanges between July and August.
Hackers whose IP addresses match those of previous attacks from North Korea, sent e-mails with attached files containing malware to police, law enforcement, and financial officials’ e-mail accounts, which when opened, contaminated their e-mail accounts with malware.
It was found that high-quality duplicates of proof of identification as well as official documents requesting mutual legal assistance in criminal matters were used to deceive highly-placed officials with the purpose of gaining access to the networks of South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges to steal bitcoins.
According to police, 25 people were targeted, some of whom work for bitcoin exchanges.
However, the malware attacks on the e-mail accounts of a number of people working in the financial, law enforcement and legal sector all failed, with no computers reported to be contaminated with malware. No bitcoin was stolen.
Given the fact that a copy of official forms extremely similar in appearance to those used to request assistance in criminal matters was used, police say it is possible that an e-mail account of an employee that helps investigation agencies might have been targeted prior to the cyberattacks earlier this year.
Among the nine e-mail accounts used by hackers, seven were found to belong to South Korean web portals, with the other two from foreign websites.
Police believe North Korean hackers were responsible for the cyberattacks earlier this year, as the location from which they sent an e-mail as a trial run before launching the malware attacks was found to be in North Korea.
“Bitcoin exchanges are rushing to protect themselves from similar attacks in the future. As smartphones have been targeted in criminal cyberattacks, we urge everyone to refrain from clicking on links in messages from anonymous sources or downloading suspicious applications,” one police official said.