By Natasha Bach
December 22, 2017

Looks like someone was eager to get in on the bitcoin action, but not willing to pay for it.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, someone hacked South Korean bitcoin exchange Youbit earlier this week, stealing about 17% of its assets. The heist caused the exchange to collapse, and investigators think that North Korea may be behind it.

Cut off from the rest of the world due to sanctions, the North Korean regime is teetering on the brink of financial crisis. According to unnamed sources cited by the Journal, cryptocurrency offers the regime a new way to raise money.

Read: CEO Says Beware of North Korean Hackers ‘Building a Cache of Bitcoin’

South Korean law enforcement is investigating the heist, but those familiar note that evidence points to North Korea being responsible. This is not the first time Kim Jong-un and his cronies have been accused of bitcoin theft.

The perpetrators of this year’s WannaCry attack demanded bitcoin payment for the release of the digital files they had locked. On Tuesday, the White House claimed that the attack was carried out by Lazarus, a group that works on behalf of the North Korean government.

Read: Bitcoin Price Drops Below $14,000 as Cryptocurrency Competition Heats Up

Radio Free Asia reported in April that North Korea stole more than $88,000 worth of bitcoin between 2013 and 2015. And hackers linked to the North Korean government stole nearly 4,000 bitcoins from Youbit earlier this year. Due to the similar nature of this most recent attack, it is expected that North Korea is likely responsible.

Youbit publicized the attack early Tuesday morning, not disclosing how many bitcoins had been stolen, but noting that a share of its total assets were gone. Following the heist, the exchange suspended trading and filed for bankruptcy.

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