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A hacker group that steals for the leader of North Korea



A group of cybercriminals called Lazarus, which in 2017 infected computers around the world with the WannaCry virus, stole about 585 million euros in cryptocurrencies. This is the biggest digital scam in history. But who are the Lazari?

In late March, the Lazarus criminal group, working for the North Korean regime, carried out what is already considered the largest known cyber heist. There were about 585 million euros in ethereum cryptocurrencies (the second most popular after bitcoin) from a website linked to the video game Axie Infinity, which the group managed to extort.

The association of the coup with the North Korean faction came from the US (USA). Blockchain consultancy Chainalysis also believes North Korean hackers may have obtained $400 million worth of digital assets last year through various attacks targeting cryptocurrency platforms.

State “sponsorship” of hacker teams is common in some countries such as China, Iran or the US, which use hackers to carry out sabotage or gain valuable information. But in the case of North Korea, things are different. The leader uses hackers to make money in order to survive the tough international sanctions that the country is facing.

Who are the Lazari?

Lazarus are cybercriminals, but they are not just digital thieves. WannaCry, the largest ransomware in history, was launched in 2017, and the United States, United Kingdom, and Microsoft have credited the North Korean group with creating the malware. This virus encrypts files and charges a fee to decrypt them. WannaCry is estimated to have affected around 300,000 computers in 150 countries, including those of the UK’s National Health Service, eventually causing them to crash.

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A year earlier, in 2016, the Lazarus group tried to steal $1 billion from the Central Bank of Bangladesh. The scheme consisted of impersonating bank employees and obtaining a license to manage money. The attack failed due to a coding error. Despite this, they managed to take $81 million. The FBI called it the largest cyberattack in history.

There are also suspicions that about $530 million in tokens (digital financial assets) was stolen from the Japanese cryptocurrency exchange portal Coincheck in 2018.

But the Lazarus also carry out sabotage actions. North Korean hackers have been particularly active in 2020, when major pharmaceutical companies have been feverishly working on a Covid-19 vaccine. They attempted to hack into the computers of AstraZeneca employees who were developing the vaccine, and later tried to steal information from Pfizer.

Since North Korea is one of the few countries in the world where the pandemic was contained (until a few weeks ago), the country’s intentions may be related to sabotaging the processes of pharmaceutical companies or selling industrial secrets.

Another one of Lazar’s most notorious scams that had no economic purpose occurred in 2014 and was the first warning that North Koreans weren’t amateurs in the digital realm. The target was Sony Entertainment, the producer of the comedy film The Interview, which is about two people hired to assassinate Kim Jong-un.

A month before the scheduled release date, a group of hackers infected the computers of Sony employees. They succeeded in erasing sensitive company data, publishing salary data, and uncovering incriminating emails from some managers. They also threatened to attack cinemas showing the film, prompting major distributors to pull it off the billboard.

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Steal money for the regime

All the money that Lazarus stole has one purpose: to go after Kim Jong-un’s regime. Unlike other advanced persistent threats (APTs), a term by which organized groups of hackers with great capabilities are known, Lazarus operates with the primary goal of financially supporting the North Korean regime.

Typically, APTs — the government-run and sponsored teams that sit at the top of the hacker pyramid — are very well structured and hierarchical, with departments and professionals whose roles are clearly defined, and have the economic resources that allow them to develop sophisticated attacks. , smoothly and quickly. On paper, only the intelligence agencies of the great powers (the US, Russia, or the UK) have more power than the PLA.

Due to the very nature of the Internet, where it is easy to go unnoticed, cyberattacks are very difficult to identify. “APTs are mostly traced through clues provided by the intelligence services and code features, but it can take months to conduct a high-quality forensic analysis that determines authorship,” explains hacker and cybersecurity analyst Deepak Daswani, quoted by El País newspaper. This is why governments use APT to sabotage, spy, or conduct intelligence operations without provoking diplomatic incidents.

In the case of the Lazarus group, the purpose of running ransomware is to raise money to support a regime that, due to international sanctions, has to resort to other means to achieve its goals.

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Bank of Portugal sees risk of falling house prices | Bank of Portugal



After four months of war in Ukraine and at a time when inflation reaches its highest level in decades, Banco de Portugal (BdP) is raising the tone of its financial stability risk warnings. Among the main risks now is the possibility of a “significant correction in market prices for residential real estate”, a scenario that, if confirmed, could have a direct impact on banks’ balance sheets.

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World’s largest bacteria found in Caribbean swamps



Scientists have discovered the world’s largest bacterium in a Caribbean swamp, which, unlike most, is not microscopic and can be seen with the naked eye, according to Science magazine.

The thin white thread, about the size of a human eyelash, is “by far the largest bacteria known to date,” said Jean-Marie Folland, a marine biologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and co-author of the paper citing the discovery. made.

Olivier Gros, a co-author and biologist at the University of the French West Indies and Guyana, discovered the first specimen of this bacterium, named Thiomargarita magnifica, or “magnificent sulfur pearl,” clinging to underwater leaves in the Guadeloupe archipelago in the Caribbean. Sea, 2009

The scientist did not immediately determine that this is a bacterium, due to its surprisingly large size, since these bacteria reach an average length of 0.9 centimeters.

Only more recent genetic analyzes have shown that the organism is a single bacterial cell.

“This is an incredible discovery. It raises the question of how many of these giant bacteria exist in the world and reminds us not to underestimate bacteria,” said Petra Levin, a microbiologist at the University of Washington who was not involved in the study. .

Olivier Gros also found bacteria attached to oyster shells, rocks and glass bottles in the marshes of Guadeloupe.

Scientists haven’t been able to grow it in the lab yet, but researchers say the cell has an unusual structure for bacteria.

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The principal difference is that it has a large central compartment, or vacuole (a cavity in cellular protoplasm), which allows some cellular functions to be carried out in this controlled environment rather than in the entire cell.

“The acquisition of this large central vacuole definitely helps the cell bypass the physical limitations (…) of cell size,” said Manuel Campos, a biologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research who was not involved in the study.

The researchers also noted that they are not sure why the bacterium is so large, but co-author Jean-Marie Folland suggested that it may be an adaptation to help it avoid being eaten by smaller organisms.

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Jose Eduardo dos Santos hospitalized in intensive care – News



José Eduardo dos Santos has been admitted to a hospital in Barcelona, ​​the city where he has recently been living, and his condition is considered very serious, promotes business magazine.

This information was also confirmed to Lusa by a source close to the ex-head of state.

The internment came after the deteriorating health of the former president of Angola, who left power in 2017 after 38 years in office.

José Eduardo dos Santos, or “Zedu” as he was called in Angola, began his government work on November 11, 1975, as part of the country’s first government and then minister of foreign affairs.

For more than 40 years in power, in 1979, after replacing António Agostinho Neto, the first president of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos ruled in peacetime for less than a decade and a half and only participated directly in elections twice (1992 and 2012). apart from legislative elections (2008).

Born on August 28, 1942 in Luanda, José Eduardo dos Santos lived until his youth in the Sambizanga region, in the Angolan capital, but left the country at the age of 19 when he was already part of underground groups opposed to the Portuguese colonial regime.

He is one of the founders of the MPLA Youth, which he coordinated abroad, and in 1962 he joined the People’s Army for the Liberation of Angola (EPLA), and the following year became the party’s first representative in Brazzaville, the capital of Angola. Republic of the Congo.

In September 1975, he joined the elite of the party, being an elected member of the Central Committee and the Politburo of the MPLA, naturally moving into the government of Agostinho Neto after the declaration of independence.

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It was as head of Angolan diplomacy that he achieved the first national goal for the then People’s Republic of Angola, which was at war. In 1976, after a tense diplomatic struggle, the country was recognized as a full member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations (UN).

In the meantime, he served as First Deputy Prime Minister in the government until December 1978, when he was appointed Minister of Planning until his call to the presidency, a position he held for 38 years.

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