North Korea has been accused of distributing software that allowed users to operate illegal online gambling sites in other countries targeting South Korean gamblers.
On Monday, South Korea’s leading newspaper Dong-A Libo reported that a group of the country’s ‘white hat’ hackers had uncovered a hidden program titled “poker game server” on a website designed by online security experts to check malign codes in digital files.
The hackers claimed that the hidden gambling server software contained the IP address of North Korea’s general intelligence bureau, which has been accused of paralyzing the online activities of South Korean broadcasters and banks in a series of coordinated attacks in August 2013. The gambling software was reportedly made available the same month as the online attacks.
The Korean-language gambling software enabled users to operate various forms of gambling sites, including Hold’em poker and badugi. The hackers believe the North Korean government “earned lots of money by operating sites by itself or selling the server program to organized crime rings in the South.”
The hacker group pointed to a 2014 incident in which 15 North Koreans were arrested in Cambodia for operating an illegal online sports betting ring targeting South Korean bettors. The ring, which reportedly transferred profits of KRW 10b (US $8.5m) to North Korea before they were nabbed, was also accused of conducting malicious cyber activities against South Korean government websites.
The irony factor is huge here, as Hermit Kingdom leader Kim Jong-un (pictured) reportedly purged his uncle from the regime’s inner circle a couple years back for a list of offenses that included gambling. No doubt other Asian nations that have made arrests of Korean gambling rings – Thailand, in particular, has been overrun with such gangs in the past year or so – will be reanalyzing their evidence to determine whether there’s any connection with the North Korean software.