Boris Johnson welcomes new sanctions on North Korea

Now, we may be witnessing a second wave of this campaign: state-sponsored actors seeking to steal bitcoin and other virtual currencies as a means of evading sanctions and obtaining hard currencies to fund the regime.

Based on a announcement and report wrote down by FireEye, a cybersecurity firm - North Korean cyber criminals supported by Kim Jon Un's GOV are aiming South Korean exchanges to steal bitcoin and other altcoins.

In April, approximately $5 million was also stolen from South Korean bitcoin exchange Yapizon, although no evidence has been discovered to suggest that North Korea was behind the hack.

In addition to targeting Bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges, the North Korean hackers also involved in other financial crimes to fund state coffers, according to FireEye. It declined to name the website and said it believes North Korea prefers larger targets like exchanges than individual owners of cryptocurrencies.

"We definitely see sanctions being a big lever driving this sort of activity", said Luke McNamara, a researcher at FireEye and author of the report, to Bloomberg.

It's just the latest example of the illicit ways North Korea allegedly brings in money as it endures wave after wave of increasingly tough global sanctions over its rapidly advancing nuclear weapons program. Other security firms have linked the group to past high-profile cyberattacks, including the hacking of Sony Pictures in 2014.

According to a report in Forbes, North Korea has built "an army of hackers" to target South Korea, which is the "hectic trading hub for the cryptocurrency".

The resolution does not impose an oil import ban or global asset freeze on the government and leader Kim Jong Un that the Trump administration had wanted.

Consequently, it should be no surprise that cryptocurrencies, as an emerging asset class, are becoming a target of interest by a regime that operates in many ways like a criminal enterprise.

The hackers have also been tied by other security firms to last year's attack on Samsung Electronics Co.'s corporate messenger app and, most prominently, the breach of Sony Corp.'s film studio, which the Federal Bureau of Investigation blamed on North Korea. This marked a departure from previously observed activity of North Korean actors employing cyber espionage for traditional nation state activities.

These three attacks coincide with a number of recent reports of cyberattacks that involve some combination of North Korea, South Korea, and bitcoin. "They've been creative in how they use their cyber-espionage capability". The FBI is also examining North Korea's link to the theft of $81 million through the New York Fed past year, Bloomberg Markets reported last month. Sanctions from the worldwide community could be driving North Korean interest in cryptocurrency, as discussed earlier.

"They could compromise an exchange and transfer those bitcoins to other exchanges elsewhere in Asia or exchange them for a more anonymous cryptocurrency", said McNamara.