N.Korean possibly behind Coincheck hack

Pic Reuters

Pic ReutersSEOUL

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency cited parliamentary sources in reporting Monday on the North's suspected involvement in the January 26 heist, in which hackers made off with 58 billion yen ($526 million) worth of the cryptocurrency NEM from Japan's Coincheck.

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) told South Korea's parliament Monday that North Korea's theft of virtual currency from its rival to the South a year ago was on the scale of tens of millions of dollars, according to parliamentary sources.

Reclusive North Korea has been implicated in exchange hacks and scams on numerous occasions, as well as unsuccessful attempts at stealing cryptocurrencies from trading sites, as previously reported.

"It's a possibility that North Korea could be behind the theft", said the source, who had knowledge of Intelligence Committee proceedings. Representatives for the NIS and defense ministry weren't immediately available for comment.

A South Korean lawmaker on Monday said North Koreans were responsible for billions lost in theft from local cryptocurrency exchanges in 2017.

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According to one parliament member, the NIS alleged that North Korea has stolen tens of billions of won ($9.18M USD) from South Korea cryptocurrency exchanges previous year through cyberattacks, which partly involved the sending of hacking emails to members of local exchanges. South Korean investigators are already said to be looking into Pyongyang's involvement in the hack of Seoul-based exchange Youbit, which collapsed in December.

On Jan. 26, Tokyo-based Coincheck said someone hacked into its digital wallet and made off with more than 520 million units of a digital currency called XEM, affecting some 260,000 customers.The company admitted that they weren't using all the necessary security measures, and promised to use its own money to reimburse customers.

The reports also come as Japan rushes to clean up cryptocurrency markets after the Coincheck theft.

"We acknowledge how we deal with cyber attack is an important issue for our nation's security, crisis management and the economic growth", Suga told reporters in his regular morning presser. The South Korean agency is now examining the incident with cooperation from worldwide authorities, the lawmaker added.

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