Security researchers have unearthed an elaborate scheme of North Korean front companies secretly suppling advanced biometric recognition and encryption software to countries around the world. In a new report, researchers at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies say North Korea uses a web of freelancing sites, shell companies, and difficult to trace aliases to circumvent international sanctions and, most troublingly, embed state software into foreign companies, including “at least one reputable defense firm in a U.S.-allied country.”
Titled “The Shadow Sector: North Korea’s Information Technology Networks,” the report was produced by researchers from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. The researchers investigated the Korea Aprokgang Technology Company, a network of North Korean IT companies specializing in fingerprint scanners and facial recognition software. Though the Beijing-based arm of the network was penalized by the UN for violating sanctions, researchers found North Korean shell companies providing tech in Russia, Malaysia and Nigeria.