The government of South Korea arrested two of its citizens, the executive of the crypto exchange Exec, and a military captain, and charged them for stealing and selling military secrets to a spy from North Korea, who eventually paid for the sensitive information with crypto.
According to the official police statement, the CEO of the South Korean crypto exchange received up to $600.000 from the North Korean spy in less than a year, or since July 2021. In addition, prior to selling the classified military data, the crypto executive worked with the spy and attempted to hack into the communication system of the South Korean military, but fortunately failed to do so.
Moreover, after the failed hack attempt, the duo that actually met at an online crypto community in 2016, contacted a captain from the military of South Korea and instructed him to take photos of the classified data by using a camera device from his watch. After obtaining the military secrets, the captain then sent the info to the executive via “Poison Tap”, a USB hacking device.
After the arrest, the captain revealed to the police that in addition to military secrets, he had also given his login credentials at the South Korean Joint Command and Control System to both Lee and the North Korean spy. For his “service”, the captain was paid around $38.000 in crypto.
However, considering the gravity of the crime, and the fact that South Korea charged the CEO of Exec and the captain with treason, both conspirators will be criminally prosecuted for violating South Korea’s National Security Act, which will very likely result in quite lengthy jail sentences.
For the time being, there are no indicators whether this is the work of a member of the notorious hacking group from North Korea, the Lazarus group. However, considering the reputation of the group, especially their recent “job”, the historic $620 million crypto heist of Ronin, it would not be a surprise whatsoever if it turns out that there is a connection.
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