Gambling sites for Cold War espionage?
Nine Figure Take
According to UPI reports, South Korea Defense Security Command chief Cho Hyun-chun claims the country´s Communist neighbor to the north has been bringing in upwards of $866 million per year from covertly operating online gambling and other businesses.
These sites are run by North Korean hackers who according to South Korea intelligence mask the origin of the online funding of operations, as well as the destination of the proceeds. Hyun-chun has traced the hackers running the sites directly to North Korea's intelligence unit, which hosts its cyber division, the ominously titled Bureau 121.
The bureau has a veritable army of over 6000 full-time hackers carrying out cyber espionage through offensive hacking operations and cyber attacks, mostly against South Korea, aka Arch Enemy. After invasion, the attacks further deploy malicious coding that can be used for continued spying, according to South Korean intelligence.
Dark Cyber Shadow
With an estimated GDP of $40 billion, North Korea is nowhere near an economic power status, so it has invested heavily in cyber to increasing its global influence. The US Department of Defense characterized the activity in 2013 thusly:
"Given North Korea's bleak economic outlook, offensive cyber operations may be seen as a cost effective way to develop asymmetric, deniable military options."
In other words, instead of military strength, North Korea is seeking to forward the Liberal Democracy´s mission to “promote freedom” from North Korea via hacking.
Threat Level High
The threat has only increased, with General Vincent Brooks telling Senate leaders in April that North Korea hackers may not be "the (very) best in the world, they are among the best in the world and the best organized."
As far as seizing revenue benefits through regulation, the landscape in the totalitarian dictatorship is at this point…bleak: accessing online gambling websites from within North Korea is an offense punishable by death, even as North Korea operates numerous Internet gambling sites catering to foreign nationals.
Hacking It Up
Of late, Hyun-chun warned the North Korean cyber attacks against South Korea are “becoming more bold,” providing evidence that North Korean efforts to steal money will increase.