October 21, 2021

New Rule From US Commerce May Help Limit Spread of North Korean Cybercrime

By Jason Bartlett

The U.S. Commerce Department recently announced a new rule barring the export and resale of cyber “intrusion software” and equipment to China and Russia without a proper license from the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). It will apply to any intrusion software, including defensive products, being sold to any Chinese or Russian person regardless of whether they are affiliated with the government or not. Set to come into effect in 90 days, the rule will likely impact the operations of not only Chinese and Russian cybercriminals, but also the North Korean Lazarus Group, which conducts offensive cyber operations against foreign states, often with the assistance of Chinese or Russian groups.

As sanctions tighten in other areas, such as the commodities trade, North Korea continues to compensate for its monetary losses with funds obtained through illicit cyber activity.

While intrusion software is critical for penetration testing, which allows cybersecurity analysts to discover and patch existing system vulnerabilities, malicious actors have leveraged the sale and distribution of such technology to proliferate global cybercrimes. North Korea, in particular, has successfully incorporated cyber-enabled financial crime within its proliferation finance modus operandi for years as it provides an inexpensive and low-risk way to evade U.S. and U.N. economic sanctions. As sanctions tighten in other areas, such as the commodities trade, North Korea continues to compensate for its monetary losses with funds obtained through illicit cyber activity. These money-generating attacks range from basic data breaching tactics such as email phishing to more advanced forms of cyber-enabled financial crime including online bank heists, hacking of cryptocurrency transactions, and distributing ransomware.

Read the full article from The Diplomat.

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