Published: May 18, 2022
The US has warned the public that many North Korean IT workers hide their identities and pretend to be from other Asian countries to apply for remote jobs in an effort to steal money for Pyongyang.
These IT workers are allegedly funding North Korea’s weapons program. In recent months, the country has tested missiles, violating international sanctions.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US State Department, and the US Treasury Department released a joint statement saying that the revenue generated from the thousands of highly-skilled IT workers contributes to North Korea’s ballistic missile program.
Most of these workers are thought to be located in North Korea, as well as Russia and China. The joint statement added that companies who employ North Korean workers might be in danger of facing legal action for violating sanctions.
Due to the high demand for specific IT skills, such as mobile application and software development, these North Korean IT workers take the opportunity to gain freelance jobs from clients worldwide, including the US, Europe, and East Asia.
The government agencies further stated that they don’t particularly engage in malicious cyber activity, but “they have used the privileged access gained as contractors to enable the DPRK’s malicious cyber intrusions.”
In April, hackers backed by North Korea were found responsible for a massive crypto hack. Players of the online game Axie Infinity were drained of $625 million in total. In another incident, an American researcher received five years of prison time for helping North Korea evade US sanctions.
He conspired to violate the US International Emergency Economic Powers Act after traveling to Pyongyang for a presentation on blockchain technology.