South Korea sets independent sanctions for crypto theft against North Korea
South Korea took steps against growing cryptocurrency threats and ransomware attacks from N. Korean hackers, announcing its first sanctions.

South Korea announced its first independent sanctions related to cryptocurrency thefts and cyberattacks against specific North Korean groups and individuals.

According to Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, four North Korean individuals and seven businesses have been placed on a blacklist for their alleged involvement in cyberattacks and cryptocurrency theft. The blacklisted individuals include the infamous Park Jin-hyok, Jo Myong-rae, Song Rim and Oh Chung-Seong.

The most notorious of the four hackers, Park, works in information technology for the Chosun Expo Joint Venture, a front company connected to the Lazarus Group in North Korea. He is well-known for participating in the WannaCry ransomware assault in 2017 and the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in November 2014. The United States Treasury placed him on a blacklist in 2018.

According to information provided by the foreign ministry, North Korean hackers have stolen virtual assets worth over $1.2 billion since 2017, including $626 million in 2022. As Cointelegraph reported, a confidential United Nations report has revealed North Korean hackers stole more crypto assets in 2022 than in any other year. The U.N. report put the theft amount between $650 million and $1 billion.

The independent sanctions against North Korean hackers and hacker groups come just hours after South Korea and the United States announced a joint cybersecurity venture against ransomware attacks. The National Intelligence Service of South Korea, in coordination with the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence organizations, released a joint cybersecurity alert on the threat posed by ransomware from North Korea.

These cyber activities, which are frequently connected to the Reconnaissance General Bureau — North Korea’s military intelligence agency — are thought to be one of the country’s main sources of funding for its nuclear and missile programs despite the country being subject to severe international sanctions.


Coincover secures $30M in funding to strengthen digital asset security
Coincover secures $30 million in funding from Foundation Capital and CMT Digital to improve security in the digital asset ecosystem.

London-based digital asset protection firm Coincover has secured $30 million in a funding round led by Foundation Capital with a follow-on investment from CMT Digital.

According to Coincover’s announcement, the funds will be used to scale its operations, drive recruitment, develop new products and form partnerships to help strengthen the security of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, thereby providing even more comprehensive protection to businesses and individuals holding digital assets.

Coincover was founded in 2018 and launched in 2019 with the aim of providing trust to the digital asset industry. The company already works with over 300 businesses, including exchanges, wallets, hedge funds, family offices, banks and a number of digital asset custodians.

Coincover intends to tackle the security concerns plaguing the digital asset industry by offering businesses a solution that guards against both cyber threats and human mistakes. Coincover aims to lay the foundation for a more mature and trustworthy sector by reducing scams and fraudulent activities. The company’s offerings also claim to not only reduce the risk of moving and storing cryptocurrency but also change the perception of digital assets and foster increased confidence in the industry.

Coincover co-founder and CEO David Janczewski shared:

“At Coincover, we’re proud to prevent users from losing access to their cryptocurrency, whether that be through a mistake or the misfortune of being targeted by malicious online hackers. [...] Through this new funding, we can supercharge our service for all existing and future customers — building a better and more mature digital asset ecosystem in the process.”

Despite a prolonged bear market, Web3 projects continue to raise capital to build and innovate within the ecosystem.

On Jan. 25, Cointelegraph reported that Injective launched a $150 million ecosystem fund to boost decentralized finance and Cosmos adoption. The ecosystem group was backed by a large consortium of venture capital and Web3 firms, including Pantera Capital, Kraken Ventures, Jump Crypto, KuCoin Ventures, Delphi Labs, IDG Capital, Gate Labs and Flow Traders. According to Injective, the consortium is the largest assembled within the broader Cosmos ecosystem.


China to launch national blockchain research center
China’s national blockchain research center will create a research network with the local universities, think tanks and blockchain businesses to carry out the inquiries into core blockchain technologies.

Despite its ongoing crackdown on crypto, China continues to embrace blockchain technology — up to the point of launching the National Blockchain Technology Innovation Center in the capital city of Beijing.

According to the China Daily’s report from Feb. 8, the Center will create a research network with the local universities, think tanks and blockchain businesses to carry out the inquiries into core blockchain technologies. The fruits of this research will be used for further digitalization of China and, as emphasized in the report, its industry in particular.

In charge of the new institution is the Beijing Academy of Blockchain and Edge Computing (BABEC) — an entity most famous for the development of Chang’an Chain or ChainMaker blockchain. This blockchain is already backed by an ecosystem of 50 business corporations, most of them — such as China Construction Bank or China Unicom — owned by the state. By the press time, the known number of transactions per second (TPS) that the ChainMaker can execute is 240 million — up from 100,000 TPS in 2021.

China has been actively marketing itself as a blockchain nation in recent years. In September 2022, its government claimed that China accounts for 84% of all blockchain applications filed worldwide. While the real numbers might not differ much, the approval rate is significantly low, with only 19% of the total filed applications getting approved.

Along with the blockchain, the project of central bank digital currency (CBDC) became the trademark of the Chinese government. Millions of dollars worth of e-CNY have been handed out across the country in a bid to boost its adoption. However, cumulative e-CNY transactions only crossed 100 billion yuan ($14 billion) in October 2022.

With all the efforts to catch on with the digital innovations, recently, a former executive of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) urged the country to review its stringent crypto restrictions. The former official argued that a permanent ban on crypto could result in many missed opportunities for the formal financial system, including those related to blockchain and tokenization.


This Daily Dose was brought to you by Cointelegraph.

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