South Africa, Nigeria Among 5 African Countries Targeted In N. Korean Cyberattack

Written by Peter Pedroncelli
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (left) is allegedly funding his country’s weapons of mass destruction program through cyberattacks on financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges in 17 countries. U.S. President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, Sunday, June 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Five African countries have been affected by cyberattacks launched by North Korea in an effort to raise funds for weapons of mass destruction.

South Africa, Nigeria, Gambia, Liberia and Tunisia were targeted, alongside 12 others including India and South Korea, in cybercriminal activities that have raised up to $2 billion, according to an unpublished U.N. Security Council report seen by Reuters.

The U.N. believes that the North Korean cyber criminals are using the attacks to raise money for the country’s missile and nuclear weapons programs, Associated Press reported.

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The sophisticated cyber activities have targeted financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges.

Cyberattacks target 17 countries

The U.N. report suggests that investigations are underway in at least 35 cases where North Koreans launched cyberattacks in 17 countries, Businesstech reports.

North Korea used these three sophisticated methods to steal money from countries:

  • Attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges and individual users, where tokens were stolen.
  • Installing malware to illegally mine cryptocurrency.

African countries are more vulnerable than most developing countries to sophisticated cyberattacks due to the lack of cybersecurity infrastructure and expertise, according to the Global Cybersecurity Index 2017, released by the International Telecommunications Union, an agency of the U.N.

Cyberattacks in Africa increased by 20-to-30 percent for the year ending October 2018, according to the Africa Cyber Security Conference held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in 2018, News24 reported.

The report provided examples of the cyberattacks, though none related to Africa.

The five African countries were reportedly affected by a single attack each. South Korea, India, Bangladesh and Chile suffered multiple cyberattacks.

South Korea’s Bithumb, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, was reportedly attacked at least four times between February 2017 and March 2019, resulting in losses of around $58 million, the Associated Press reports.