US Agencies Warn Of Influx Of North Koreans Into IT, Cryptocurrency-Related Online Jobs

US Agencies Warn Of Influx Of North Koreans Into IT, Cryptocurrency-Related Online Jobs

The US Departments of Justice, State and Treasury issued a joint warning against the influx of North Korean workers in various freelance tech jobs, especially in the cryptocurrency sector.

The warning was made public on Friday, highlighting red flags and critical identifiers for private companies to avoid hiring North Korean workers. US agencies warned that these workers pose a number of risks including theft of intellectual property, data and funds that could be used to evade economic sanctions imposed against the nation.

There has been a significant increase in the freelance job market due to the pandemic, and the crypto space, being a decentralized sector, offers some of the most lucrative IT jobs in the industry today. This is the cause of concern for US agencies, who are wary of North Korea’s interest in the cryptocurrency sector.

Summary of how North Koreans operate to get jobs online.

The warning noted that North Korean workers often use virtual private networks (VPNs) to acquire IP addresses from other countries and stolen identities to hide their national origin. The warning further stated:

“These workers develop apps and software that span a number of industries, including but not limited to business, cryptocurrency, health and wellness, social media, sports, entertainment, and lifestyle.”

To identify and screen out these workers from US-based companies, the warning listed several red flags to watch out for, such as inconsistencies in spelling of name, nationality, declared place of employment, contact information, educational history, work history, and other details in job platform profiles of freelancers.

The request for payments in cryptocurrency and the frequent transfer of money to bank accounts based in the People’s Republic of China were other major red flags listed in the warning.

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North Korea has been infamous for stealing money through various ransomware attacks and hacks and is home to one of the most notable hacker groups called Lazarus. The recent hack of Axie Inifity’s Ronin Bridge, which resulted in the loss of over $600 million in cryptocurrency, was also linked to the same group of hackers.

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