February 9, 2018

North Korea Possibly Behind Japan’s $530M Coincheck Heist, Says South Korea’s Intelligence Agency

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) claims that North Korea is likely behind the Coincheck cryptocurrency heist in which $530 million worth of virtual coins have been stolen from a Tokyo-based exchange last month.


As reported by Reuters, people who had knowledge of parliament’s intelligence committee proceedings have told them that “the NIS had not provided the specific evidence to intelligence committee to support their claim but flagged it as a possibility.” The spy agency told the committee that North Korean hackers had “probably” hacked into the Japanese cryptocurrency exchange.

Kim Byung-kee, a member of South Korea’s Parliament’s intelligence committee, recalled similar past incidents in which North Korea attacked exchanges in the country. He said, “North Korea sent emails that could hack into cryptocurrency exchanges and their customers’ private information and stole (cryptocurrency) worth billions of won.”

A person familiar with the matter said that the virtual coin market remains a likely target for North Korean hackers due to its sheer size and light regulation but that there was no hard evidence that North Koreans were behind the theft.

The Coincheck heist was the biggest hack in the history of cryptocurrency. Following the hack on January 26, the Japanese exchange temporarily halted its operations. It later announced a compensation policy designed to return more than 260,000 users who were affected by the breach.

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