North Korean Lazarus Group hackers indicted in US

by Joseph K. Clark

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has indicted three North Korean (DPRK) military personnel with participating in a staggering and wide-ranging criminal conspiracy that has included destructive cyber attacks, the theft and extortion of over $1.3bn worth of money and cryptocurrency using multiple malicious cryptocurrency applications, and the development and fraudulent marketing of a blockchain platform.

In a second case unsealed today, a joint Canadian-US citizen has agreed to plead guilty to related money laundering charges and admitted working as a high-level facilitator for multiple schemes, including a North Korean cyber bank heist.

North Korean Lazarus

“As laid out in today’s indictment, North Korea’s operatives, using keyboards rather than guns, stealing digital wallets of cryptocurrency instead of sacks of cash, are the world’s leading bank robbers,” said assistant attorney general John Demers of the DoJ’s National Security Division. “The department will continue to confront malicious nation-state cyber activity with our unique tools and work with our fellow agencies and the family of norms abiding nations to do the same,” he added.

“The scope of the criminal conduct by the North Korean hackers was extensive and long-running, and the range of crimes they have committed is staggering,” said acting US attorney Tracy Wilkison for the Central District of California. “The conduct detailed in the indictment are the acts of a criminal nation-state that has stopped at nothing to exact revenge and obtain money to prop up its regime.”

The indictment, filed at the US District Court in Los Angeles, expands on previous charges levied by the FBI in 2018. FBI deputy director Paul Abbate praised the agency’s efforts, which were conducted in close collaboration with US agencies and foreign partners in an attempt to hold North Korea accountable for its cybercrimes.

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