Claims have arisen from the Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA) that North Korea-based cybercriminals have started to ramp up malware attacks against the users and service providers of digital currencies in South Korea. Evidence also suggests that the hackers have targeted the digital currency companies themselves too.
The latest KISA report from mid-November shows a staggering 370% increase in malware attacks relating to cryptocurrencies compared to figures from the same period in 2016. The data that KISA collated shows that the hackers have been consistently attempting to disrupt the daily running of the currency providers and companies, as well as trying to steal money and taint the image of cryptocurrencies in the public eye.
According to data in the report, 5,366 ransomware attacks involving cryptocurrencies were recorded between January and September 2017. The political tension between North and South Korea is considered to be one of the main reasons behind the intensifying rate of malware attacks on establishments in the south.
This is particularly evident in the summer months of 2017, as in July and August alone, malicious software was discovered in multiple in-house systems of many South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges.
The agency is currently expecting the attacks on currency service providers and online services to continue in South Korea; potentially intensifying in the near future unless a plan to prevent the attacks is implemented. This view is predicted based on the reputation that North Korean hackers have gained after launching aggressive attacks against the infrastructure of South Korea in the last few years.
The presence of hacker groups that are sponsored by the state in North Korea is also currently predicted to worsen the situation. Due to these developments, the KISA are advising that individuals and companies based in South Korea take the threat seriously and work with the government wherever they can to prevent it.