By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is believed to finance some 30 percent of its illicit weapons programs with proceeds from illegal cyber activities, a White House official said Thursday.
Anne Neuberger, deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technologies, also said the U.S. is "particularly concerned" that the proceeds from the North's illicit cyber activities are used to fund the country's illegal weapons programs.
"North Korean malicious cyber activity is of significant concern. You saw we attributed a number of North Korean cyber attacks against cryptocurrency infrastructure that we believe netted North Korea vast sums of money," Neuberger said in a press briefing hosted by the Washington Foreign Press Center.
"And we are particularly concerned ... we believe that North Korea funds just about 30 percent of its missile and other malicious programs from cyber attacks," she added.
The remark follows a record number of missile tests by North Korea. Pyongyang fired more than 50 ballistic missiles this year, marking the largest number of ballistic missiles launched by the country in any given year.
Neuberger said the U.S. is working closely with its allies and partners, including South Korea, to identify cyber threats posed by North Korea and also to "make it harder to move illicit funds through cryptocurrency infrastructure."
Washington imposed sanctions on virtual currency mixer Tornado Cash in August for helping to launder up to US$600 million in cryptocurrency stolen by the Lazarus Group, a North Korean state-sponsored hacking group.
"So we continue to use multiple tools -- both our intelligence cooperation to find activity, our sanctions designation to designate elements of cryptocurrency infrastructure that facilitate the movement of funds -- as well as real efforts to improve the resiliency of banks and cryptocurrency infrastructure that are targeted by the DPRK," said Neuberger, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
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