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

December 19, 2017, 10:32 PM UTC

Companies that deal in bitcoins and other digital currencies should be worried about being hacked by North Korea, which is “building a cache” of stolen crypto-loot, says one cybersecurity CEO.

“It’s an anonymous currency, it can easily bypass any sort of sanctions because there are none on bitcoin, and the value has increased dramatically,” CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz told CNBC’s Squawk Alley on Tuesday. “It’s the perfect currency for North Korea to be hoarding.”

Kurtz’s warning comes after a huge gain in bitcoin’s price in the last year. The currency, which is difficult to trace, is now trading for over $17,000.

In addition to discussing the biggest threats to cybersecurity in the coming year, Kurtz addressed the WannaCry cyberattack in which hackers took control of computer systems in 150 countries in May 2017, including those of banks, healthcare companies, and the U.K.’s National Health Service. On Monday, Trump administration officials confirmed that North Korea was behind the attack that involved demands that victims pay ransom in bitcoin to regain control of their files.

“We do not make this allegation lightly,” President Donald Trump’s homeland security advisor wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Monday about North Korea’s alleged involvement. “It is based on evidence. We are not alone with our findings, either. Other governments and private companies agree. The United Kingdom attributes the attack to North Korea, and Microsoft traced the attack to cyber affiliates of the North Korean government.”

Authorities believe that Lazarus Group, a hacking collective associated with North Korea, is behind the attack, according to the Associated Press.