The US has warned that North Korean IT workers are trying to get remote jobs by hiding their true identities to steal money for Pyongyang.
According to three US government agencies, many of them pretend to be from other parts of Asia. They are reportedly helping finance North Korea’s weapons programs in violation of international sanctions. The country has conducted several missile tests in recent months.
“The DPRK [North Korea] dispatches thousands of highly skilled IT workers around the world to generate revenue that contributes to its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes, in violation of US and UN sanctions,” the US State Department, US Treasury Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a joint statement on Monday.
The statement said the workers are based in North Korea and other countries, mainly China and Russia. A small number are said to be located in Africa and Southeast Asia.
“These IT workers take advantage of the current demands for specific IT skills, such as software and mobile application development, to obtain freelance employment contracts from clients worldwide, including North America, Europe and East Asia,” it said.
“Although DPRK IT workers normally engage in IT work distinct from malicious cyber activity, they have used the privileged access gained as contractors to enable the DPRK’s malicious cyber intrusions,” the statement added.
It also said companies that hire North Korean workers could face legal penalties for violating the sanctions.