N Korea hackers suspected to be behind Youbit heist: report

December 21, 2017 09:26
South Korean investigators suspect that North Korean hackers may have had a hand in the cyber heist that led to the collapse of bitcoin exchange Youbit. Photo: Reuters

South Korean investigators are looking into North Korea's possible involvement in a heist from Youbit, the bitcoin exchange that collapsed on Tuesday, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the paper said a probe into the hack of Seoul-based Youbit is in its infancy but there are suspicions that North Korea was behind the attack.

Investigators from South Korean police and the Korea Internet & Security Agency are determining the scope of the situation, the report said, adding that a review of the malware code could take weeks.

But sources were quoted as saying that there were telltale signs and historical evidence that North Korea was behind the Youbit attack.

North Korean hackers in April targeted the same cryptocurrency exchange, operating under a different name, the sources noted.

Yapian, the company that operates Youbit, suspended trading and filed for bankruptcy after Tuesday's hack saw 17 percent of the exchange's crypto assets being stolen.

The bitcoin heist follows similar suspected Pyongyang-directed offensives against other South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges, as well as individual investors, the Journal noted.

On Tuesday, the White House said North Korea directed this year’s WannaCry ransomware attack, which locked digital files and demanded bitcoin payment for their release.

North Korea has denied involvement in the hacking incidents.

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