North Korean hacking threat to financial services

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US government officials warn of the threat of North Korean hackers, calling particular attention to banking and financial services.

The reason for the advisory, jointly issued by the US departments of State, Treasury and Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), was unclear. North Korean hackers have long been accused of targeting financial institutions and the content of the warning appears to draw on material in the public domain.

The State Department said in an email the advisory “collates government resources in one place” and provided recommended steps “to counter the North Korean cyber threat.”

North Korea is alleged to be behind an ambitious, years-long campaign of digital theft, including siphoning millions of dollars in cash from ATMs, carrying out thefts at major banks, extorting computer users worldwide and hijacking digital currency exchanges. The global money-grab is a topic of increasing international concern.

Last year, for example, a UN report said North Korea generated an estimated $2 billion for its weapons of mass destruction programmes using “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” hacking efforts.

In Wednesday’s advisory, US officials said North Korea’s online activities “threaten the US and countries around the world and pose a significant threat to the integrity and stability of the international financial system.”