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    U.S. Government Offers $5 Million Reward To Identify North Korean Hackers

    The United States has put up a $5 million reward for DPRK hackers GETTY
    The U.S. government has taken the unusual step of offering a reward of up to $5 million (£4 million) for information leading to the identification of North Korean hackers threatening the United States.
    In a National Cyber Awareness System advisory published April 15, the U.S. Departments of State, the Treasury, Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation offered up guidance regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) cyber threat.

    The North Korean hacking threat

    The advisory warns that malicious cyber activities conducted by North Korean hackers "threaten the United States and the broader international community," in particular, "a significant threat to the integrity and stability of the international financial system.

    "In what the alert refers to as being DPRK state-sponsored cyber actors, it says these are an assortment of hackers, cryptologists and software developers engaged in espionage and theft. The primary target being financial institutions and digital currency exchanges. They have, it warns, developed, and deployed a wide range of malware tools in order to enable these nefarious activities. Malware tools that have grown increasingly sophisticated.

    DPRK attacks

    Among the attacks that have been publicly attributed to North Korean state-sponsored actors by the U.S. government are the Sony Pictures network hacking in 2014, the Bangladesh bank robbery where at least $81 million (£65 million) was stolen in 2016 and the WannaCry ransomware attacks in 2017 that brought large parts of the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom to a halt.

    How to claim the $5 million reward

    "If you have information about illicit DPRK activities in cyberspace, including past or ongoing operations," the advisory concludes, "providing such information through the Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program could make you eligible to receive an award of up to $5 million."

    Anyone with such information can get further details by visiting the Rewards for Justice website. Richard Bejtlich, the principal security strategist at Corelight, said that offering this reward is a great idea as "it's a comparatively low-cost method to gain intelligence on a hard target, and plays to the economic incentives attractive to those in the criminal hacking scene.

    North Korean attacks come as no surprise


    Mark Sangster, vice-president and industry security strategist at eSentire Inc, suggested that the timing of the advisory suggests it could be "in response to something that the intelligence community has identified but cannot release in detail without exposing sources.

    " Sangster went on to add, "as North Korea's primary rival, and being challenged by the impacts of COVID-19 and the increased threat surface from workforces shifting to work from home models; it's not surprising that the DPRK would take advantage of the United States at this time."

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