The coordinator of the UN body that oversees the enforcement of sanctions against North Korea said on Wednesday that more attention should be paid to cybercrime, which had become fundamental to Pyongyang’s ability to fund its banned weapons programs.
Eric Penton-Voak, of the UN Security Council’s panel of experts on North Korea, noted that, despite the broadest sanctions regime ever imposed on a nation-state by the United Nations, North Korea has significantly accelerated missile testing. , especially in the past six months .
“It may not be a coincidence that the words cyber and cryptocurrency don’t really appear in UN sanctions resolutions,” he told a discussion hosted by Washington’s Center for a New American Security think tank.
Penton-Voak said he believed cyberactivity had become “absolutely fundamental” to North Korea’s ability to evade UN sanctions to raise money for its nuclear and missile programs, but the expert panel’s semi-annual reports had failed to reflect this. , as the Member States had done so. reluctant to report violations.
“We rely on UN member states to inform us of breaches to investigate. But many, many member states are quite cautious about their own cyber capabilities,” he said.
“Victims, for their part, are often very reluctant to discuss how hacks happened and how extensive they were… I hope and expect that in the future our reports will show the central importance of cyber-enabled financial crime to (North Korea) .”
Penton-Voak said North Korean hackers were at the forefront of cyber technology, as evidenced by the recent hack of the Axie Infinity video game.
The United States last week linked North Korean hackers to the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency linked to Axie Infinity.
Ronin, a blockchain network that allows users to transfer crypto in and out of the game, said digital cash worth nearly $615 million was stolen on March 23.
A post on the official Ronin blog said the FBI had attributed the hack to the Lazarus Group, a hacking entity that Washington says is controlled by the Reconnaissance General Bureau, North Korea’s primary intelligence agency.
It has been accused of involvement in the “WannaCry” ransomware attacks, the hacking of international banks and customer accounts, and the 2014 cyber attacks against Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Washington has pressured the UN Security Council to blacklist Lazarus and freeze his assets, according to a draft resolution reviewed by Reuters last week.