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Don’t accidentally hire a North Korean hacker, warns the FBI North Korea


U.S. officials warn businesses against inadvertently hiring IT staff North Koreasaying that rogue freelancers take advantage of remote work opportunities to hide their true identities and make money for Pyongyang.

A recommendation issued by the State and Treasury Departments and the FBI said efforts were aimed at circumventing U.S. and UN sanctions and raising money for North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Officials said companies that hired and paid such workers could face legal consequences for violating sanctions.

“There are thousands of DPRK IT workers, both exported and stationed in the DPRK, who receive income that is transferred to the North Korean government.

“These IT professionals take advantage of existing requirements for specific IT skills, such as software development and mobile applications, to obtain freelance work contracts from clients around the world, including North America, Europe and East Asia.”

North Korean workers pretended to be natives of South Korea, Japan or other Asian countries, the adviser said. He laid out a number of red flags that employers should watch out for, including refusing to participate in video calls and requests to receive payments in virtual currency.

U.S. officials said North Koreans are mostly based in China and Russia, with fewer operating from Africa and Southeast Asia. Most of the money they earned was received by the North Korean government.

The recommendation says that while much of the secret job search involves earning foreign currency or accessing virtual currency exchanges, some of the workers helped Pyongyang’s hacking operations backed by the government.

Employees can also “steal account information from U.S. or international bank customers to verify their identities with freelancer platforms, payment providers and companies that hire” contractors.

Recruiting North Koreans “creates many risks, ranging from theft of intellectual property, data and funds to damage to reputation and legal consequences, including sanctions from the US authorities and the United Nations,” the statement said.

From Reuters and Agence France-Presse


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