North Korea's latest plan for world domination? Videogame gold farming!

We couldn't make this stuff up: South Korea is accusing the North Korean government of hacking MMOs to rack up points and sell it off to players for real cash—in order to fund nuclear weapons.

This is similar to gold farming, where players spend long hours leveling up characters and earning achievements, which they then sell off. But rather than spend all of those hours grinding away at repetitive tasks (like fighting off the undead in Duskwood), these hackers instead likely created a botnet of automated playing programs that did the grinding for them.

According to the New York Times:

Working from Northern China, the police said, the squad [of hackers] created software that breached the servers for such popular South Korean online gaming sites as Lineage and Dungeon and Fighter. The breach allowed round-the-clock play by "factories" of dozens of unmanned computers.

Their accumulated gaming points were exchanged for cash at Web sites where human players are focused on acquiring enhancements for their online personas, or avatars.

Hackers earned $6 million in two years: a nice windfall, considering the economic sanctions against North Korea. The money was then funneled into a slush fund that pays for luxury goods, which Kim Jong Il gifted to loyal Korean Worker's Party members. This slush fund also pays for weapons of mass destruction.

South Korean police learned of this when they arrested four people in Northern China who were trying to organize more hackers.

Unsurprisingly, the North Korean government denies the accusation.

(via New Scientist)

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