Large-Scale Bitcoin Mining is Taking Place in North Korea
Information recently surfaced that someone in North Korea has started mining bitcoin. According to Recorded Future, a threat intelligence company, on May 17 North Korea initiated a rather large mining operation. Prior to this date, there was minimal bitcoin node activity in the country.
The website said, “Before that day, there had been virtually no activity to Bitcoin-related sites or nodes, or utilizing Bitcoin-specific ports or protocols. Beginning on May 17, that activity increased exponentially, from nothing to hundreds per day.”
Bitcoin Mining and Wannacry ‘Coincidental’ Link
The website explored an intricate theory about why North Korea began mining bitcoin. They made a connection between the bitcoin mining start date and the timeline of the Wannacry ransomware attacks in May. The ransomware effectively encrypted over 75,000 businesses computers worldwide, and then asked for a bitcoin ransom in return for access to the files.
Apparently, North Korea started the bitcoin mining process to produce bitcoin activity within the country, so they can stealthily move bitcoin from the ransomware wallets around while preserving deniability of the attacks, according to Recorded Future.
This notion is not the only theory about the origin of Wannacry, though. According to reports from Financial Times and other media outlets, the Wannacry software is linked to the NSA exploits as well as the Shadow Brokers group. In this sense, there is no immediate, clear connection between North Korea and Wannacry aside from the present analysis by Recorded Future. Nonetheless, someone in North Korea is still leading a large scale bitcoin mining operation.
Who’s Behind the Mining?
There is still speculation about who is running the operation, but Recorded Future suggests that it is probably government. The website clarified:
It is not clear who is running the North Korean bitcoin mining operations; however, given the relatively small number of computers in North Korea coupled with the limited IP space, it is not likely this computationally intensive activity is occurring outside of state control.
Furthermore, even accessing an Internet connection for common people in North Korea is nigh impossible. The government does not provide access to the worldwide web to many people, unless those individuals are high ranking military or government officials. Most people can only sometimes access the country’s internal intranet, which only has a handful of basic websites. This is another point if why it is probable that State actors in North Korea are running the operation. At this point, no one knows for certain.
Do you believe that North Korean government officials are mining bitcoin? Why do you think they are mining bitcoin? Let us know in the comments section below.
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