There is a rising cryptocurrency risk in North Korea, according to the FBI and Treasury Department. In line with this, there seems to be an increasing number of job applicants for the crypto industry that are raising practically every red flag.
Founder of the Stella Talent Partners recruitment firm, Elliott Garlock, conducted an interview in February to find potential candidates they could hire for a crypto firm. Strikingly, one of the applicants, who claimed to be from San Francisco, was deemed a no-go immediately.
In a report by Cnet, the applicant joined the Zoom interview with his camera off and had to be persuaded to turn it on. It sounded like he was in a tiny, packed room with continual background talk. When questioned about details of where he is from, he couldn’t say exact information except “Bay Area.”
Garlock described it as a strange, fruitless interview. What’s worse is he seemed to be able to find a similar candidate after another candidate, after another, and another.
Garlock considered people like these as “North Korean operatives,” or offshore that use remote work to get paid for not working. None of them were referred to his clients.
Now, the theory is that those people applying for employment were North Koreans attempting to steal money for their country.
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Danger to Worldwide Crypto Industry
North Korean hackers have established they can do massive harm by manipulating the system. Hacks that occurred multiple times within the crypto industry proved that the threat is real.
The Lazarus Group, a North Korean hacker group, stole $600 million from Axie Infinity’s blockchain.
Axie Infinity is an online game where the “pets” are considered NFT to be traded for crypto. Game developer Sky Mavis created its own blockchain, called Ronin, to support the digital economy and process transactions in the game. The Block reported that North Korean spies contacted a Ronin engineer on LinkedIn early last year. The engineer got a PDF job offer after many interviews.
When he clicked the malicious PDF link, the Ronin employee offered North Korean hackers four validator keys that could gain control of the blockchain. Once inside Axie Infinity’s system, hackers got the fifth key. The validator keys obtained were enough to make $600 million disappear.
Coincidence or Not?
The patterns have incredibly far-reaching repercussions. Anne Neuberger, a Biden administration deputy national security advisor, said a third of North Korea’s crypto wealth goes to its weapons development, including nuclear weapons. It is also funding espionage. Reportedly, two South Koreans stealing military intelligence for a North Korean spy were paid in bitcoin this year.
Former FBI North Korea analyst Nick Carlsen, who now works for crypto security firm TRM Labs, remarked essential crypto is to North Korea right now. And that the country has become a “crypto superpower” with nuclear weapons.
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Written by Trisha Kae Andrada
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