Crypto-related crimes cause North Korean internet use to surge by 300%

on Feb 15, 2020
Updated: Mar 11, 2020
  • North Korean internet use has surged by 300%, and many believe that one of the reasons for this is crypto-related criminal activity.
  • North Korea has been fascinated with crypto for years, with its hackers targeting exchange for a long time, even stealing up to $2 billion since 2015.
  • The country's misuse of the blockchain and crypto already has a major impact on the economy, with many suspecting that it could cause fear of this technology.

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North Korea has been a major concern for countries around the world, but the US took special care to try and limit its danger through sanctions and other ways of applying pressure. Despite the country’s efforts, however, the rogue state still managed to expand its internet presence massively recently — as much as by 300%, according to some estimates.

It is suspected that internet use in the country at least partially surged due to crypto-related crimes. The rise in internet use comes alongside the aggressive pursuit of ‘dark money.’ Multiple reports from the past 12 months have been confirming that North Korea has developed a major interest in cryptocurrency, and it mostly obtained the coins through cybercrime.

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The country has also been working on improving its digital weaponry, all with the goal of bypassing sanctions. While these efforts are anything but unexpected, their effectiveness has been rather shocking to geopolitical analysts around the world.

North Korea continues to steal, mine, and misuse cryptocurrencies

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So far, it appears that the country has mostly focused on a privacy coin, Monero. This is also not particularly surprising, as Monero offers a way to make anonymous transactions, unlike other cryptos, which can be traced. North Korea has been trying to get its hands on XMR in multiple ways, especially through mining.

However, due to the country being as secretive as it is, it is difficult to assess the exact impact of its activities. Its hackers have been especially busy, as well, with numerous hacks hitting exchanges around the world, but especially those in South Korea.

A leaked UN report from September 2019 claimed that North Korean hackers managed to steal around $2 billion worth of cryptocurrencies since 2015, although the country denied any such accusations.

Clearly, the country preferred to continue with illegal and dark operations instead of trying to gain access to the global community of nations. With a stance like that, the global economy has been the one to face deep consequences. However, many expect that North Korea’s lack of change is going to impact the world further, especially as crypto adoption continues to spread.

Fortunately, the world seems to be aware that North Korea’s take on the blockchain does not apply to the rest of the industry, which is something that should be preserved, or else the fear of new technologies will impact their development and adoption.