#InfosecurityEurope2022: The Interactivity Between Nation-State Attackers and Organized Crime Gangs


The second day of InfoSecurity Europe 2022 saw Geoff White, investigative journalist and author of Penguin Books’ The Lazarus Heist, discuss how government-sponsored cyber-attackers increasingly interact with organized crime gangs, operating seamlessly on a global scale. White also touched upon the emerging world of cryptocurrency theft.

In illuminating the increasing connection between cybersecurity and geopolitical issues, White began by analyzing and contextualizing The Lazarus Group, which stands accused of carrying out a decade of cyber-attacks on behalf of the North Korean government. White continued by stating that North Korea is a unique case in cyber criminality, as while most hackers seek a strategic advantage via the hacking of information, North Korea sponsors cyber-attackers to hack specifically for money. This is due to the international sanctions imposed on the country and the financial isolation it finds itself in, meaning that North Korean government hackers are increasingly aligning with organized criminals to fuel the country’s economy.  

White’s talk carried on with a selection of relevant case studies, including the recent Cosmos Cooperative Bank and Bank of Valletta cyber theft incidences, both of which were linked to the North Korean government, demonstrating the uptick in state-funded cyber hackers operating closely with organized criminals.

The session finished with some key takeaways, with White emphasizing that cryptocurrency is the “soft underbelly” of the financial system that is being increasingly targeted, with stolen funds used for nefarious ends, and that there’s a growing trend of organized criminals getting into bed with nation-state hackers. These evolutions in cyber space present new challenges, both in cybersecurity and geopolitics. 

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