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North Korean Hacking Group Faces US Sanctions for Satellite Launch Cyberattacks

The U.S. Department of Treasury added the North Korean hacking group Kimsuky and eight North Korean nationals to its Sanctions Designation List (SDN) on June 30, local time.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Department of the Treasury announced this through its website. In a press release, the Treasury stated that this is a response to North Korea’s claim of a military satellite launch on the 21st of last month. It was added that this demonstrates the multifaceted efforts of the U.S. and its partner countries to block North Korea’s revenue generation, material procurement, and information-gathering capabilities for advancing its Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) program and illegal weapons and related materials exports.

Kimsuky, designated for sanctions this time, is a hacker group under the Third Bureau (Technical Reconnaissance Bureau) of North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau. As reported by the Panel of Experts under the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea in April, Kimsuky has been targeting military, energy, and infrastructure sectors, aiming at confidential information of companies operating in these fields.

Kimsuky uses a method of disseminating emails impersonating well-known institutions or real individuals to steal information. In South Korea, they have committed incidents such as the leak of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power documents (2014), emails impersonating the National Security Office (2016), and emails impersonating government agencies, parliamentary offices, and journalists (2022).

The South Korean government designated Kimsuky as a unilateral sanction target against North Korea on June 2, immediately after North Korea launched a military reconnaissance satellite. The eight individuals designated for sanctions by the U.S. Department of Treasury are associated with North Korean state-owned weapons export companies, financial institutions, and paper companies. This includes North Korean nationals Choi Sung Chul, Choi Eun Hyuk, Lim Sung Soon, and Seo Myung.

By. Cho Yoo Jin

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