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Kaspersky Lab Reports a North Korean Malware Targeting Crypto Exchanges


South Korea’s “Kimchi Premium” price on digital currencies means that their cryptocurrency market is booming. Despite the bearish market, South Korea is one of the world’s crypto hotspots not only in Asia but for the rest of the world as well.

In fact, one of the reasons for the popularity of cryptocurrencies in South Korea is the fact that they have North Korea right beside them. Many are banking on cryptocurrencies in case something happens between the two countries and tensions rise. Technically, they’ve been in war with North Korea for decades.

But it isn’t just a political thug of war between North and South Korea. North Korea has been reported to have been stealing cryptocurrencies from different parts of the globe including South Korea. In fact, South Korea has been dealing with cryptocurrency exchanges getting hacked over the years.

North Korea’s Malware

If there is still any doubt that North Korea participates in hacking cryptocurrencies, Kaspersky Lab announced that hackers from the other Korea infected cryptocurrency exchanges using a malware that affects both Windows and macOS.

The malware was dubbed as “AppleJeus”. It was able to infiltrate the system of an unnamed exchange via an employee downloaded an app that has been tainted. Kaspersky Lab believes that the app came from a fake developer that made use of fake security certificates. The North Korean hacker collective that did the operation was collectively known as the Lazarus Group. According to the report released by the company, the virus was able to”ensure that the OS platform was not an obstacle to infecting targets, it seems the attackers went the extra mile and developed malware for other platforms, including for macOS”. They also added that “A version for Linux is apparently coming soon, according to the website. It’s probably the first time we see this APT group using malware for macOS”.

macOS Malware Attacks

In early July, there were already reports of macOS malware attacks aimed towards Slack and Discord users that are discussing cryptocurrencies. The hackers were able to impersonate “key people” within the chat groups. Once they were able to share “small snippets” that were downloaded by other users, that’s when the hackers were able to execute a malicious binary.

Regulatory Changes Against Hacking

Hacking incidences is a serious concern for a lot of countries today. In fact, this was the reason for Japan’s new regulations that targeted cryptocurrency exchanges. For a cryptocurrency exchange to be able to operate within Japan, it needs to meet the newest standards. Unfortunately, even Kraken decided not to operate in Japan anymore because of this.

There are high profile scams all over the globe today targeting cryptocurrency users and exchanges. There were reports of using sim swapping strategies in order to target users that have been known for having a great amount of cryptos in their wallet. However, the most damage is when a crypto exchange is hacked.

Is it time for countries to impose new rules regarding crypto exchanges today? Is Japan’s move the best way to prevent hacking incidences?


John Jayme

John is a crypto investor, enthusiast and copywriter. He is in charge of daily news and other emerging trends in blockchain technology.