David - Cryptocurrency Specialist
In a move to fortify its cybersecurity infrastructure and counter illicit digital activities, South Korea is actively formulating a bill to monitor and immobilize cryptocurrency and virtual assets linked to North Korea. The focus is primarily on assets utilized to back unauthorized weapons agendas.
As per Korea JoongAng Daily, a renowned local news medium, several undisclosed governmental sources acknowledged the bill's development on Aug. 3. Echoing the president's sentiments on strengthening South Korea's cybersecurity protocols, a confidential government representative mentioned the necessity of the proposed bill.
Another insider from the administration highlighted the bill's revamped version, pointing out strategies to "identify and disable" cryptocurrencies and virtual assets that North Korea has illegitimately acquired via hacking and other exploitative means. Notably, such stipulations were absent in the bill's preliminary version, which the National Intelligence Service (NIS) presented in November 2022.
In a parallel move, there's a buzz about the administration's aspirations to set up a centralized national cybersecurity committee, working directly under the president's purview. The objective of this body would be to amplify South Korea's resilience against foreign cyberattacks. Reportedly, the leadership of this committee would rest with the head of the National Security Office and will feature the NIS director among its ranks.
Historically, North Korea has been linked to significant cyber thefts. TRM Labs, a blockchain analytics company, estimated that from 2018 onwards, North Korean cyber operatives pilfered approximately $2 billion. The statistics for 2023 alone are alarming, with North Korea allegedly responsible for crypto thefts amounting to $200 million, constituting 20% of the year's total cyber loot.
In related news, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has intensified its efforts to trace digital activities backed by the North Korean state. In an update from Aug. 23, six Bitcoin wallets associated with the notorious North Korean Lazarus hacking group were identified by the FBI. These wallets held around 1,580 Bitcoin, valued at nearly $40 million, believed to be proceeds from various cyber heists.
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