It seems that North Korean hackers have moved on from movies … to cryptocurrency. The same North Korean hacking group involved with the data theft at Sony Pictures Entertainment was behind attacks on South Korean cryptocurrency users and exchanges last year, U.S.-based researchers said.
Bloomberg reported that the Lazarus Group, an organization thought to be tied to the North Korean government, launched a so-called spear-phishing campaign against crypto users in the weeks leading up to talks with South Korea, according to a report Tuesday from Insikt Group, a research team with the firm Recorded Futures.
In other news, bankers such as former Wells Fargo Chairman and CEO Dick Kovacevich continue to express concern over cryptocurrencies. Kovacevich told viewers on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” that he believes bitcoin is a scam. “I think it’s a pyramid scheme,” Kovacevich said. “It makes no sense. I’m just surprised it isn’t even lower.” Kovacevich is hardly alone in his criticism, as JPMorgan Chase’s Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon called bitcoin a fraud, though he has since backpedaled somewhat on his comments.
But cryptocurrencies have gotten a favorable reception from Mark Cuban, who said that fans of the Dallas Mavericks, which he owns, would be able to purchase tickets with bitcoin. “And we will be taking Ether as well,” Cuban told Bloomberg News. “As far as tokens, we will be taking tokens originated by companies [where] we have business relationships.” Cuban was prompted to make the announcement after a Twitter user asked if his franchise would accept bitcoin.
In other news, bitcoin investment platform BitConnect has announced that it will shut down, according to The Next Web. In a blog post released on its official website – titled “Changes coming for the Bitconnect [sic] system – Halt of lending and exchange platform” – the company said that it is “closing the Bitconnect [sic] lending and exchange platform.” The website has since gone down.
In a not-so-good day for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, every major currency fell by anywhere from 15 to 28 percent on Tuesday. According to a rough estimate from Fortune, the top 10 currencies collectively lost $108 billon in 24 hours – about the total value of McDonalds or Boeing, according to data from PWC.
For those undeterred by cryptocurrency’s volatility, Amplify Investments LLC and Reality Shares, Inc. are each launching exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that invest in companies betting on blockchain. According to Reuters, the funds’ tactic seeks to please regulators who have denied or put aside several proposals for funds that would own bitcoin or futures based on them.