Pyongyang university students are given a bitcoin cryptocurrency crash course for the first time something that has brought impending worries to the bitcoin mining experts. This is after the alleged accusations that the university has been training state hackers. The issue is heightened by the fact that North Korea has had rumblings with bitcoin mining industry. In fact, a year ago, hermit kingdom was accused of stealing, hoarding and mining the cryptocurrency.
Well, there is a probability that the course could be assumed as a mere opportunity because of the current trend and bitcoin mining appeal. However, the experts feel that this could be a loophole for more sinister actions such as sanction avoidance, theft, and fascinating state hacking.
Since 2016, there is some evidence that certain actors from North Korea have been observed conducting cybercrime. Mostly, they have been targeting the global finance and the banking systems. They are believed to be using their talents and intrusion capabilities to perfect their moves on these crimes.
A report from May 2017 shows a group of actors from North Korea suspected to be hackers and cryptocurrency thieves. This group of people is targeting to steal cryptocurrency exchanges from South Korea. Most of them are actors sponsored by the state. Their intent interest is majored in stealing virtual currencies and bitcoin.
Luke McNamara, a member of the FireEye, a cybersecurity firm in the U.S., says that the North Korea’s active involvement in cryptocurrency is directly associated with a number of factors. He points out to the media that the major reason could be due to economic sanctions. However, the regime presumes cryptocurrency to be very low-cost in providing the hard cash easily.
An Italian bitcoin startup founder, Tenga Federico was making trips to Pyongyang teaching elite students about blockchain technology and bitcoin mining. However, his conference at Pyongyang University of technology was canceled. This was due to the president Donald Trump’s travel ban restricting U.S. citizens moving to North Korea.
As a result, the North Korean Pyongyang University contacted Tenga to teach bitcoin mining and blockchain technology as a course. According to Vice, Tenga held a seminar to teach faculty members. He delivered five lectures, each ninety minutes to forty students aged between 20 to 25 years. The student were reportedly so curious and fast to understand the concepts that he taught while Tenga says that no one monitored his movement while on campus.
However, a government official accompanied him whenever he wanted to go outside the campus.
Well, the introduction and existence of the course in the North Korean university points to evidence that the state has been involved actively in the theft of bitcoin and illegal mining. According to the media, the increased fascination and elevated interest in cryptocurrency by the North Korean actors are alarming to the entire industry.
According to Tenga, the hermit kingdom has specialized and sophisticated computers that they use for mining their own bitcoin.
Priscilla Moriuchi states that “There should be no mistaking this course as a benevolent academic exchange; everything in North Korea is carefully evaluated and managed by the regime.” Therefore, the blockchain and bitcoin-mining experts are worried that the institution is being used to breed international hackers hence destabilizing the industry.