Cryptocurrency may be getting quietly channeled to North Korea university: Report

Propaganda posters lines the walkways of Kim Il-sung University.
The Straits Times

A cybersecurity company said it has found software that appears to install code for mining cryptocurrency and sends any mined coins to a server at a North Korean university, the latest sign that North Korea may be searching for new ways to infuse its economy with cash.

The application, which was created on Dec. 24, uses host computers to mine a cryptocurrency called Monero. It then sends any coins to Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, said cybersecurity firm AlienVault, which examined the program.

“Crypto-currencies may provide a financial lifeline to a country hit hard by sanctions, and as a result universities in Pyongyang have shown a clear interest in cryptocurrencies,” the California-based security firm said in a release, adding that the software “may be the most recent product of their endeavors.”

The company added a caveat that a North Korean server used in the code does not appear to be connected to the wider internet, which could mean its inclusion is meant to trick observers into making a North Korean connection. Kim Il Sung University, however, plays host to foreign students and lecturers, not just North Koreans.

Kim Il Sung University did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Government officials representing North Korea at the United Nations were not immediately available for comment.

Others have flagged increasing signs of North Korean interest in cryptocurrencies and underlying blockchain technology.