Disclaimer Sept. 6 8:23 p.m. UTC: This article previously read that the NSA was working to develop a cryptocurrency, as the source alluded to quantum resistant “crypto.” It has since been amended to correctly report the development of new cryptography technology.
The United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) is allegedly working to develop quantum-resistant cryptography.
The claim was made in a tweet by Bloomberg Technology reporter William Turton on Sept. 4, who was in attendance at the Billington CyberSecurity 10th annual summit in Washington D.C.
Turton’s tweet gives only a hint at the agency’s apparent plans, with reference to the quantum-resistant cryptography project confined to an aside. He wrote:
“Anne Neuberger, Director of NSA’s new Cybersecurity Directorate says that the agency will propose hardware and software standards again. Also notes agency is working to build quantum resistant crypto.”
Further details of Neuberger’s presentation was provided in coverage by Microsoft News, in a report focusing on the agency’s battle with ransomware threats posed by a host of geopolitical adversaries — including North Korea, Iran, Russia and China.
Neuberger noted that the NSA has identified 4,000 ransomware attacks daily, stating that this prevalence was a key concern for the U.S. 2020 presidential elections.
She said the agency’s newly-established Cybersecurity Directorate, due to start work in October, would focus on mitigating the threat of influence operations by Russia, as well as intellectual property theft and cyberespionage attacks from China.
Neuberger singled out North Korea as being creative in its cyber warfare strategy, pointing to the rogue state’s use of cryptocurrency to compile funds for President Kim Jong-Un’s regime.
Cryptocurrency in shadow warfare
Cryptocurrencies have become part and parcel of stealth cyber warfare and global intelligence operations.
In July 2018, the Department of Justice (DoJ) charged twelve individuals from two units of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) with using cryptocurrency to fuel efforts to hack into computer networks associated with the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and U.S. elections-related state boards and technology firms.
That October, the DoJ charged seven GRU officers with crypto-funded global hacking and related disinformation operations.
Earlier this month, a leaked confidential report from the United Nations revealed that the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee believes that North Korean hackers have netted around $2 billion by hacking banks and cryptocurrency exchanges.
The committee claims that hackers form an essential part of the regime’s funding and allegedly raise funds for its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) programs, among other activities.