Last week, the cybersecurity firm, Alienvault revealed an important discovery about a brand new cryptocurrency mining malware, which focuses explicitly on mining Monero. The malware is thought to have been developed on Christmas Eve 2017 and essentially serves as an installer for software that hijacks a user’s device covertly to mine the cryptocurrency.
New strains of cryptocurrency malware are hardly surprising lately, as cryptocurrency-related hacks have grown significantly in the last year after the increase in the value of most cryptocurrencies. However, what makes this new malware so significant is that an in-depth analysis of the malware’s code revealed that all profits generated from the malware are sent directly to a computer server located in one of North Korea’s oldest educational institutions, the Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang.
According to the report published by Alienvault, North Korea is ostensibly utilizing cryptocurrencies to evade crippling sanctions imposed by it by the international community. In this context, it makes it unsurprising that North Korean universities have set their sights on developing new techniques to generate cryptocurrencies.
Notably, the Kim Il Sung university recently hosted a range of foreign lecturers who were all experts in the cryptocurrency industry. The report continues that this latest strain of malware is obviously North Korea’s latest attempt to profit from cryptocurrency.
Monero has been at the receiving end of widespread criticism lately as it seems to be the cryptocurrency of choice for crypto hackers. Also, North Korea has gained quite a reputation as of late for their hacking prowess and has been blamed for a host of cyberattacks, both crypto-related and not, on countries in the West, but have also targeted several prominent South Korean exchanges.
Despite the likely accurate reports on North Korea and its damaging hacking campaigns, skeptics have also pointed out that the emerging stories could just be to sway the public opinion to approve an impending cyber or financial strike.
The report penned by Alienvault also warned that the computer server linked in the code could be an elaborate ruse to mislead security researchers and lead the heat away from the actual hackers. Considering North Korea’s total isolation to the rest of the world, it is significantly difficult to place the blame for recent crypto hacks with 100% accuracy on the country.