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North Korea Hackers Step Up Bitcoin Attacks (bloomberg.com)
16 points by qu4ntumturk 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 11 comments

I've always been a little curious how North Korea is able to produce hackers that are competitive on a global scale. It's not only that an average North Korean would grow up with access to fewer resources compared to many countries, but you'd also think that the same information embargo used to keep the population in line would also compromise the ability of the best technical people to educate themselves. Extremely limited access to internet, current books, a creative community (either in-person or virtual), software, tooling, etc.

I guess the answer is the same as how the country is able to win gold medal at the Olympics [1] – money (and lots of it) sunk into state-sponsored training programs — but I'm a little surprised that it's effective. Even in the US, a school that would consistently produce A-grade hackers would be pretty hard to build.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Korea_at_the_Olympics

Anecdata time: I'm currently an exchange student in China and one of my Chinese friends told me about his attempt to make friends with two North Koreans in his class. They were apparently always staying together, sleeping in the same dorm room, going to the washroom at the same time, the works. When my friend tried to talk to them, they immediately left as if they were afraid.

I have read that this is a common tactic North Korea employs when sending people abroad for business (or, in this case, study). Their families are kept as hostages, and if any of them were trying to escape, they would all be punished. So they have to constantly check on each other for fear of their own lives and those of their families.

So North Korea doesn't need to build an elite hacker school themselves, they can just send promising candidates out of the country, make sure that they do nothing but study, and ensure their return using the threat of violence.

That's also how their border guard works.

They identify bright students in school, then send them to China or Russia or Europe for higher education. They get them to come back by threatening to put their family in a labor camp if they don't return.

Yea. We teach our own enemies. It's sad state of world.

What makes you think North Korea is an enemy of China or Russia?

What a load of horseshit. From the referenced report:

"In 2016 we began observing actors we believe to be North Korean" - key phrase "we believe".

"Now, we may be witnessing a second wave of this campaign" - "may be".

The whole article is just fishing for connections with zero ties to anything solid. Even if they did connect two dots, we can now claim that a few people doing something is the entire North Korean regime? Pppplease.

Well, if it is someone in NK, how likely is it that an ordinary citizen can do it?

Because its the same as "Russian hackers"

anyone in the world with a proxy can pretend to be the "state sponsored hacker"

I don't see how people are still falling for this, but hey it still works and you can make millions of dollars without prosecution.

How good are these guys, and what happens if... NK gets all internet access cut off from the rest of the world?

In the aftermath of the Sony hack the NSA burned a few taps when it became known that they monitored the boxes in China that the NK hackers use as staging servers.

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