Hackers from North Korea are targeting financial institutions in Latin America, a top cybersecurity researcher said June 28, a sign that the hermit kingdom’s digital attacks will continue despite a high level summit with the United States.

Speaking at George Washington University, Kevin Mandia, the chief executive of cybersecurity company FireEye, said that North Korea is “hacking the hell out of Latin America” and is “wildly unpredictable” in cyber space.

Mandia’s statements come after a string of high-profile attacks on financial institutions in Latin America and a tete-a-tete with President Donald Trump. Experts warn that in the aftermath of this month’s Singapore meeting, North Korea’s cyber prowess could continue with a vengeance.

Suspected North Korean hackers tried to steal more that $110 million from Mexico’s state owned bank in early 2018, according to a report from Bloomberg. The Bank of Chile also lost more than $10 million due to a cyberattack in early June.

Since 2016, North Korea have used cyberattacks as a moneymaking enterprise, experts say. Crippled by sanctions, Kim Jong Un entrusted his cyber warriors with generating revenue for the cash-strapped economy.

Most cyberattacks that FireEye’s team have seen come from North Korea, Iran, China and Russia, Mandia said.

He added that North Korea has distinct advantages in cyberspace compared to the United States. Because most of North Korea is not connected to the internet, the country is not as vulnerable to digital attacks compared to more connected countries, Mandia said.

“We are in a $10 million glass house and North Korea is in a mud hut with seven IP addresses,” he said.

Justin Lynch is the Associate Editor at Fifth Domain. He has written for the New Yorker, the Associated Press, Foreign Policy, the Atlantic, and others. Follow him on Twitter @just1nlynch.

More In