The North Korean government and all of its operations are extremely mysterious to the outside world. They like to keep it that way as much as possible. The thing about it is though, the damage that they can do is serious. They have pulled off hacking stunts in the past such as hacking into the accounts of executives from Sony. Their latest target now are some of the executives from cryptocurrency companies.
Fortune.com reports that the North Koreans have used what is known as a spear-phishing scam. This is a scam whereby the North Koreans send in e-mails that look official, but what is attached to them is nothing more than an infected Microsoft Word document. As soon as that document is opened, the virus is released, and the executive has had their information compromised.
As soon as the virus is on the computer, the North Koreans have full access to that computer. Obviously, that is a major problem for anyone, but it is an even bigger deal when the target of this hack is someone with a major role in the world of cryptocurrency. It is possible that the North Korean hackers could manipulate the price of Bitcoin and other currencies or even just steal some of that currency. Basically, they could do just about anything that they want when they have access to those computers.
The skyrocketing value of Bitcoin has lead rouge governments like the one in North Korea to send out their militaries to go out and steal it. It is not an unusual tactic for nations that are pitted against one another to try to steal from each other. However, the difference is that in the past the things that were stolen were things that you could physically hold in your hand. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are not like that. Still, they have so much value in the market right now that it makes perfect sense to make the theft worth the trouble.
This is a very old way of stealing something from someone over the Internet. That being said, the tactic still works in a lot of cases because people are just not expecting it. As long as the North Koreans can make the e-mail look legitimate, they will still be able to reel in more and more people as time goes on. It is a really easy way for them to gain a lot of power.