North Korea hunts for Bitcoin

North Korea is interested in Bitcoin to mitigate the effect of international sanctions on the economy
14 December 2017   283

Some experts argue that against the backdrop of global crypto-currency mania, the North Korean regime intends to establish control over a significant number of existing bitcoins through the use of virus-extortionists, thefts and mining. This is reported by the NZ Herald.

It is a fact that North Korea has been attacking virtual currency exchanges. We don't know how much North Korea has stolen so far, but we do know that the police have confirmed the regime's hacking attempts.

Lee Dong-geun

Director, Korea Internet and Security Agency

The rogue state is primarily attracted by the decentralized nature of the crypto-currency, which makes it possible to hide the direction of financial flows and the purpose of their appointment. Many experts believe that the country uses crypto-currencies to mitigate the effect of international sanctions on the economy.

In May of this year, hundreds of thousands of computers around the world were infected with a virus-extortionist WannaCry, which encrypted users' data and demanded a ransom of $ 300 in bitcoin equivalent. The NSA accused North Korean intelligence of carrying out this global attack in order to attract funds.

Shortly after these events, Recorded Future published an analytical report on the mining activity in the DPRK, which was first recorded on May 17. In addition, experts have proved that North Korean "elites" used VPN-networks to make purchases on the Internet for bitcoins.

The scale of the DPRK's mining industry is still unknown, but experts believe that in connection with the Chinese ban on North Korean coal imports, the country can use its provision of "farms" with electricity.

The main blow of North Korean hackers took over the South Korean crypto exchange, in particular - Yapizon.

The spearphishing we have observed in these cases often targets personal email accounts of employees at digital currency exchanges, frequently using tax-themed lures and deploying malware.  

FireEye Security Firm Report

According to various estimates, "department 39" deals not only with gold smuggling and counterfeiting currency, but also owns many restaurants. The report emphasizes that the DPRK acts as a "criminal cartel", so the crypto-currency assets immediately attracted Pyongyang's attention.

This situation has a negative impact on the reputation of bitcoin in particular and the industry as a whole, as it gives financial regulators around the world the opportunity to introduce restraining measures.

Arizona to Protect Crypto Nodes Legally

According to the public records, proposed protections for cryptocurrency node operators are moving ahead in Arizona's legislature
21 February 2018   43

On February 6 House Bill 2602 was filed by Representative Jeff Weninger (R.-17). It passed the Arizona House of Representatives on February 20 with 55 out of 60 votes. Now it will be sent to the State Senate.

The bill will prevent governments in the state from imposing restrictions on people who run nodes in their residences.

The bill does not specify whether it is restricted to cryptocurrency miners. However, the bill states that individuals using computing power to either validate or encrypt a transaction on a blockchain are protected.

This is just one out several bills making their way through the Arizona legislature. Another bill by Weninger would formally define the terms "coin", "blockchain," and "initial coin offering" within the state's legal framework.

Another bill recently passed by the Arizona Senate which would empower the state government to accept taxes in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.