Today, three North Korean state-sponsored malicious cyber groups were sanctioned by the U.S. government for their role in North Korea’s malicious cyber activity on critical infrastructure. Lazarus Group, Bluenoroff, and Andariel were identified as “agencies, instrumentalities, or controlled entities of the Government of North Korea” by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in documents announcing the sanctions.
The announcement of sanctions includes specific campaigns, attacks, and actions that the U.S. government has attributed to the three groups. According to Dmitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike CTO and co-founder, “This is yet another indication of how forward-leaning US government’s position has become in a relatively short period of time on doing attribution of malevolent cyber actors. A few years ago, this type of action would have been unprecedented.”
According the Department of the Treasury, the groups have targeted financial systems, financial institutions, and government agencies in their campaigns. The activities have largely been responsible for hard currency returns to North Korea’s government. John Hultquist, director, intelligence analysis for FireEye says, “The sheer scale [of the campaigns] suggests that they are a financial lifeline for a regime that has long depended on illicit activities to fund itself. It’s important to remember that this activity appears to be very lucrative, and the choice for the cash-strapped regime to give it up will be a hard one.”
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