Global Crypto News by Killerwhale
Welcome to the Global Crypto News hub! Articles by Killerwhale go over the news you may have missed that involves crypto, but had a real world effect. Sit back, relax, and enjoy! News is gathered throughout the week and posted every Saturday!
The Growing Threat of North Korean Crypto Hackers
For several years, North Korean hackers have been active in the cryptocurrency sector, launching cyberattacks that have netted hundreds of millions of dollars. North Korea uses this revenue to fund its weapons program and buy armaments.
The most well-known group is the Lazarus Group, which has been behind numerous large-scale hacks in the cryptocurrency sector, including attacks in the DeFi ecosystem and the major Ronin Bridge hack in March 2022, in which they stole nearly $625 million using stolen private keys. This is considered the largest cryptocurrency hack on record by the FBI.
Despite the fact that the year is not yet over, according to a recent report by blockchain intelligence firm TRM Labs, North Korean-linked hackers have stolen over $200 million worth of cryptocurrency in 2023, accounting for more than 20% of all stolen crypto in the year.
The most recent exploit by North Korean hackers was the Atomic Wallet hack in June 2023, in which they stole over $100 million worth of cryptocurrencies from over 4,100 individual addresses through phishing.
A spokesperson for TRM Labs said, "North Korean hackers use a variety of techniques to launder stolen funds, from chain hopping to mixers. They then quickly cash out through accounts at exchanges that typically have lower KYC/AML controls in place. Following the US Treasury's sanctioning of cryptocurrency mixing service Tornado Cash last year, TRM Labs has seen North Korea strongly favor Sinbad as the mixing service of choice."
South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) has reported that they have evidence of military cooperation between North Korea and Russia. The NIS said, "The NIS found evidence of military cooperation between Russia and North Korea earlier this month and on August 8, as well as evidence that Russian transport planes brought military equipment to Pyongyang. they are also closely monitoring the possibility that Russia is transferring key nuclear missile technologies to North Korea.”
The increasing use of cryptocurrency by North Korea to fund its weapons program is a major concern for the international community. Western powers have imposed sanctions on North Korea in an effort to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons, but these sanctions have had limited success. Given that cryptocurrency technology is a relatively new, unregulated, and decentralized financial system, along with North Korea's sophisticated techniques for laundering stolen funds, it is difficult for governments to track and trace their transactions. This makes it an attractive option for North Korea, which is trying to evade international sanctions.
Beijing is planning to spread its Social Credit System to the Metaverse
China Mobile, a government-owned telecommunications operator, has recently published an article strongly encouraging the creation of a digital ID for everyone who participates in the Metaverse and online virtual worlds.
This digital ID is designed to include both "natural characteristics" and "social characteristics" of users that include a range of personal data points, such as people's occupation, "identifiable signs," and other attributes. Additionally, the concept also includes the permanent storage of information and its sharing with relevant authorities. The system's potential benefits were demonstrated by its ability to quickly identify and punish individuals who cause problems in the metaverse, such as spreading misinformation or creating chaos.
These recommendations were submitted during discussions with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations institution specialized in communications technology. The focus group will meet again in October, likely to vote on these recommendations.
As the ITU's metaverse unit is a key player in setting global telecommunications and technology infrastructure standards. If the Chinese proposals are somehow adopted, they could have a major impact on these industries, as the Metaverse and this institution are major arenas for geopolitical wranglings between superpowers vying to shape the Internet’s future.
As a matter of fact, those proposed policies have been described by Western experts as too authoritarian as China continues to file more and more proposals to the ITU compared to the United States and Europe counterparts. These may lead to a government-controlled internet in the coming years which would totally align with China’s aim to establish authoritarian norms to the Metaverse usage. As Chris Kremidas-Courtney, a senior fellow at Brussels think tank Friends of Europe said, “If you want to seize the future, you set the standards for it.”
Furthermore, these proposals have raised concerns about the potential for mass surveillance, data privacy violations and the role of governmental authorities acting as “Big Brothers” in controlling virtual and non-virtual world experiences such as George Orwell described in his best seller.
Thailand authorities may shut down Facebook activities due to scam crypto ads being non-regulated
On August 21, Thai authorities warned Facebook, a member of the GAFAM, that they may seek a criminal court order to halt its operations in the country due to the prevalence of investment and cryptocurrency scam ads.
Chaiwut Thanakmanusorn, the Thai Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) minister, said he had submitted a letter demanding that Meta's social media platform "take action to resolve the issue" and "block more than 5,301 fraudulent ads/fake pages." These fake crypto ads have allegedly misled more than 200,000 people into these scams, causing losses of more than 10 million baht (about $285,000). Considering that the average salary in Thailand is around $400, this is a significant amount of money.
The minister's statement that over 70% of all online investment frauds in Thailand take place on Facebook is alarming, especially considering that MDES and related agencies have reportedly asked Facebook for cooperation for years.
"Thai authorities have raised the issue with Facebook many times, asking it to screen for fake advertisements on its platform. However, it has failed to help us in tackling the scams," the minister said.
Thai authorities will rely on the computer crime law in their case against the scammers and Facebook. The Royal Thai Police is also suing Facebook and the scammers, alleging that the multinational platform facilitated the fraud.
MDES is in the process of compiling evidence from offenders on the Facebook platform to send to court by the end of this month. The court could order Facebook to close its operations in Thailand within seven days of the offense.
Minister Chaiwut said, "If Facebook wants to continue doing business in Thailand, it must take more responsibility in this matter."
Meta-owned social media platforms Facebook and Instagram have become a breeding ground for malicious actors to scam their victims. According to a report from the Federal Trade Commission, in 2021, investors lost over $700 million to such crypto scams. Countries like Australia have sued Meta for publishing crypto scams on Facebook involving public figures.