A version of this post originally appeared in the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter.
It had to happen sooner or later: The two biggest tech stories of 2017—foreign cyber attacks and bitcoin—have come together perfectly in a single story. Namely, it looks like the infamous North Korean hacking outfit, The Lazarus Group, is running a spear-phishing campaign aimed at executives of cryptocurrency companies.
You may remember this gang from previous outrages such as the WannaCry ransomware outbreak, the hacking of Sony, and the $81 million cyber-heist from the Bangladesh Central Bank. Their latest scam, identified by Secureworks, involves sending emails about a Chief Financial Officer position that contain an infected Microsoft Word document.
As ZDNet reports, clicking on the document triggers a piece of malware that allows the attacker access to the victim’s computer. It’s unclear if any of the targeted executives have fallen for the phish or if the scheme has yielded the Lazarus Group any bitcoins. Let’s hope not—in part because crypto-currency companies know the risk of cyber-threats better than most, and should not be hiring people who click on random Word documents.
More broadly, the idea of North Korea phishing for bitcoin is intriguing because the phenomenon is at once so new and so old. It’s new because countries until very recently didn’t even take bitcoin seriously—and now, as the price of a bitcoin tops $18,000, rogue nations are telling their militaries to go forth and steal it.
At the same time, though, North Korea’s phishing antics can also be seen as a twist on the centuries-old military tactic known as privateering. Once upon a time, this tactic took the form of kings and queens granting letters of marque that allowed privateers to roam the oceans and plunder booty from enemy merchant ships. Today, North Korea is allowing its hackers to operate as digital privateers in search of crypto plunder like bitcoin.
This modern version of privateering is not as exciting as grand naval battles with cannons and cutlasses, but no doubt it’s just as lucrative.