It has been revealed that the recent Bitcoin price surge may be benefitting North Korea.
Investors in the cryptocurrency have been celebrating the boom as the price of Bitcoin has incredibly risen from less than $1,000 at the start of the year to more than $17,000 right now.
However, experts have now revealed that Kim Jong-un may also be enjoying the Bitcoin boost considering hackers from North Korea have been stealing the digital currency, according to police.
These hackers could be earning a lot of money thanks to the price surge having used disguised emails to steal the cryptocurrency.
They have also been recently demanding it as ransom payments.
Lee Dong-geun, a director with South Korea’s state-run Korea Internet and Security Agency, told CNN:
It is a fact that North Korea has been attacking virtual currency exchanges.
We don’t know how much North Korea has stolen so far, but we do know that the police have confirmed the regime’s hacking attempts.
According to the police although they are unsure about how much Bitcoin North Korea managed to get overall, it is certain that four different exchanges in South Korea that trade the cryptocurrency were targeted.
Back in July and August, the hackers sent malicious emails to the employees and since these traders also dealt in other digital currencies, it is likely that these were also stolen.
As Bitcoin was designed to operate outside of banks and the government with anonymity it has an even greater appeal to hackers, more so since its value skyrocketed.
All you need to make or receive payments is a Bitcoin address which acts as a virtual postbox and since there is no register which lists all of these, people can protect their identities.
Therefore the North Korean hackers can easily stay hidden and convert their stash into money or other more unusual cryptocurrencies quite easily.
However, calling the currency unstable would be quite the understatement considering its price constantly fluctuates.
Only a week ago it’s price boomed by $3,000 in just one day, a pretty astonishing feat.
But in September when it was valued at over $5,000 it did not last long plummeting in price later the same day.
There is no simple explanation as to why Bitcoin is so unsteady meaning it is always unclear where the cryptocurrency will go next.
Forecasts are mixed but the majority say it is due a massive crash soon which isn’t good news for the North Korean hackers.
According to Wonderful Engineering, economics expert Panos Mourdoukoutas has said that two events in particular could bring the price of Bitcoin down:
There are a couple of things that could kill the hype for the digital currency and help push demand in the opposite direction.
One of them is a Lehman or Enron-style fraud event, not necessarily in the Bitcoin market, but in some other cryptocurrency market, which brings to mind the wild west mentality of mid 19th-century capitalism.
The second thing would be the end of easy money. That would push interest rates higher. and take the ‘air’ out of the Bitcoin bubble that has turned into a mania.
However since Bitcoin is so complex, although Mourdoukoutas can suggest that these events may bring about a downfall, it has been proven that nothing is ever certain.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.