- Kim Jong-un’s dictatorship allegedly scouring for funds
- Illegal online activity generating $800 million a year
Players have been warned against the potential of unauthorised, fake or scam-ridden online casino and betting websites set up by North Koreans.
North Korea’s credentials in the cyber crime market have been well documented over many years but Asia crime experts expect a step up in illicit activity as international condemnation of nuclear missile testing continues.
Elite hacking squads
One of the most common ways, outside of direct financial or corporate theft, that North Korean hackers make money online is by setting up fake online casinos and betting websites that are outside of the jurisdiction of countries with online gambling legislation.
People will gamble online, regardless of whether or not the authorities want them to, and in areas of the world where this is illegal they have created a thriving black market.
The Korean Institute of Liberal Democracy estimates that regime-funded hackers have generated over $800 million of revenue in the past year alone – much of this from fraudulent online gambling activity.
In fact, one of the men arrested as a suspect in the murder of Kim Jong-un’s half brother Kim Jong-nam, was heavily involved in running black market North Korean casinos.
Many of these sites specifically target their South Korean neighbors, as gambling is heavily restricted and frowned upon there, but they have been known to operate globally.
North Korean hackers also use illicit gambling software to infect the computers of military personnel and other state employees, in preparation for future attacks, and the Korean Intelligence Agency has estimated that there at least a thousand North Korean-run gambling sites on the web at any one time.
Worsening diplomatic picture
China has suspended all imports of North Korean coal after a string of incidents that garnered international condemnation of Pyongyang’s actions.
Following a series of unauthorized missile tests and the widely speculated assassination carried out on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half brother in Kuala Lumpur, China’s previously friendly attitude towards the beleaguered dictatorship may be cooling off.
Unfortunately for the world, this means the regime may continue to turn towards more illicit methods to find sources of funding.
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