Companies could run the risk of hiring North Korean secret agents when bringing in remote IT workers, US government officials have warned.
According to the FBI, rogue North Korean freelancers are hiding their identities in order to make money for Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear weapons program and building everything from dating apps to online gambling.
Computer scientists based mainly in China and Russia would pretend to be from South Korea, Japan and other Asian countries in order to obtain contracts and money from Western clients.
The US says most of the money it makes goes to the North Korean government, which urgently needs foreign currency.
Officials said“There are thousands of DPRK IT workers both sent overseas and located in the DPRK, generating revenue that goes to the North Korean government.
“These IT professionals are taking advantage of existing demands for specific IT skills, such as software and mobile application development, to secure freelance work contracts with clients around the world, including North America, Europe and South Asia. ballast.”
Red flags to watch out for include refusals to participate in video calls and requests for payments in virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin.
Some of the workers are said to have even aided the North Korean government’s hacking operations, “could steal customer account information from US or international banks to verify their identity with independent platforms, payment providers, and companies employing” contractual.
The work of these freelancers includes creating mobile apps, dating apps, VR games, facial recognition, and more.
Part of the reason North Korean IT workers overseas act this way is that they can earn ‘at least ten times’ more than overseas factory workers or builders, a ‘significant percentage’ of their income supporting everything from the DPRK’s nuclear weapons program to labor.
It’s unclear how widespread the problem is, but the briefing notes that a US-sanctioned “Chinese computer company” in 2018 was actually run by North Korea.