North Korea’s Lazarus Group is using social engineering attacks to target users of cryptocurrency, according to a joint advisory from the US FBI, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the US Treasury Department.

“The U.S. government has observed North Korean cyber actors targeting a variety of organizations in the blockchain technology and cryptocurrency industry, including cryptocurrency exchanges, decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, play-to-earn cryptocurrency video games, cryptocurrency trading companies, venture capital funds investing in cryptocurrency, and individual holders of large amounts of cryptocurrency or valuable non-fungible tokens (NFTs),” the advisory says. “The activity described in this advisory involves social engineering of victims using a variety of communication platforms to encourage individuals to download trojanized cryptocurrency applications on Windows or macOS operating systems. The cyber actors then use the applications to gain access to the victim’s computer, propagate malware across the victim’s network environment, and steal private keys or exploit other security gaps. These activities enable additional follow-on activities that initiate fraudulent blockchain transactions.”

The threat actor is using spear phishing attacks to trick users into downloading malicious cryptocurrency apps.

“Intrusions begin with a large number of spear phishing messages sent to employees of cryptocurrency companies—often working in system administration or software development/IT operations (DevOps)—on a variety of communication platforms,” the advisory says. “The messages often mimic a recruitment effort and offer high-paying jobs to entice the recipients to download malware-laced cryptocurrency applications, which the U.S. government refers to as ‘TraderTraitor.’ The term TraderTraitor describes a series of malicious applications written using cross-platform JavaScript code with the Node.js runtime environment using the Electron framework. The malicious applications are derived from a variety of open-source projects and purport to be cryptocurrency trading or price prediction tools. TraderTraitor campaigns feature websites with modern design advertising the alleged features of the applications.”

North Korean threat actors are well-known for conducting financially motivated operations for their heavily sanctioned government. New-school security awareness training can teach your employees how to avoid falling for social engineering attacks.