US Sanctions North Korean-Linked Entities and Individual Involved in Cyber Crimes
The United States Treasury has imposed sanctions on four entities and one individual associated with obfuscated revenue generation and malicious cyber activities that support the North Korean government. The announcement was made on May 23, 2023.
Of the sanctioned entities, three have been linked with North Korea’s primary intelligence service, the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), which US officials say is behind many of the country’s cyber espionage and cyber theft activities. These entities include the Pyongyang University of Automation, the Technical Reconnaissance Bureau, and its subordinate cyber unit, the 110th Research Center.
According to the US Treasury Department, “The DPRK-based Technical Reconnaissance Bureau leads the DPRK’s development of offensive cyber tactics and tools and operates several departments, including those affiliated with the Lazarus Group.”
The fourth entity to be sanctioned is the Chinyong Information Technology Cooperation Company, also known as Jinyong IT Cooperation Company. This organization illicitly employs IT workers who fraudulently obtain employment in countries such as Russia and Laos, to generate revenue, including virtual currency, to support the Kim regime and its unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.
An individual named Kim Sang Man, who works at the Chinyong office located in Vladivostok, Russia, was also sanctioned jointly by the United States and South Korea. He is presumed to be involved in the sale and transfer of IT equipment for the North Korean regime and received cryptocurrency funds transfers valued at over $2m from IT teams located in China and Russia in 2021.
The workers employed by Chinyong typically hide their identities, locations, and nationalities using forged documentation to apply for jobs. They have secretly worked in several industries, including business, health and fitness, social networking, sports, entertainment, and lifestyle.
These sanctions against North Korean entities and individuals provide a glimpse into the ongoing cyber warfare between North Korea and Western countries. Despite several attempts by Western nations to curb North Korea’s cyber activities, the country has continued its malicious cyber practices, which have negatively impacted numerous industries worldwide.
Overall, these sanctions aim to curb North Korea’s illicit revenue generation and funding of unlawful activities and highlight the importance of continued cooperation between the US and South Korea to combat North Korea’s cyber threats.