Cyber actors are reported to have committed financial crimes on behalf of North Korea, raising money for the country’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
DPRK is believed to have generated $1.1 billion from this activity, and $100 million in 2014 alone. In February 2016, the country’s cyber actors executed a cyber attack on the SWIFT network, fraudulently transferring $101 million out of Bangladesh’s central bank. Most of the funds have not been recovered.
The cyber actors used malware to insert fraudulent SWIFT transactions into the network, and alter transaction history. Funds were transferred via multiple transactions to accounts at banks in several other countries.
The theft of funds from banks (through cyber attacks) is just one way that the regime raises funds for its proliferation activities. Other methods have included cryptocurrency, overseas information technology workers, cigarette smuggling, etc.
Analysis: North Korea has diversified its fundraising methods over the years in response to sanctions pressures; the country is likely to continue to exploit new and emerging technologies, as well as cyber attacks, to raise money for its proliferation activities.