The Lazurus Heist: An eye-opening look at international cybercrime

BBC World Service


Perhaps it’s life imitating art, or the opposite, but the recent slew of cyberattacks (see the Colonial pipeline and Kaseya incidents) has been serendipitously accompanied by some quality documentary podcasts that dig into the motivations and mechanisms of cyber criminality.

The Lazarus Heist from the BBC is one of the more robust offerings, and takes listeners on a whistle-stop tour of hackers, their targets and one of the most ambitious cyber-heists of the internet era. Expect organized crime, casinos, banks, Hollywood, the FBI, bedroom nerds and North Korea to feature heavily.

This is a dense and wide-ranging podcast — to the point that even eager listeners like this author can sometimes feel like they’ve lost the thread between episodes — but the material presented is of the quality you’d expect from the BBC: it is at once complex and accessible. Particularly gratifying is the input of Jean Lee, a veteran foreign correspondent once based in Pyongyang; a city that is very much the mothership for the international hacks and hacking community examined.

The Lazarus Heist is as informative as any documentary you may choose on this topic, but it’s important to say that despite its journalistic creds, it is not without humor — both Geoff White and Lee bring a much-needed lightness, and there are some beautiful cultural insights for those who might be interested. Fake weddings, billion dollar transfers, an army of high rolling money-launderers…if you collect fun stories, then this is a veritable gold mine. At the same time, this is often delicately tempered by shocking realities about North Korean “cyber slaves”, and the kinds of life-threatening jeopardy co-ordinated hacks can throw-up.

If you want one clean narrative that runs ten episodes, then this podcast may disappoint, but if you’re down for getting stuck in and learning some eye-opening truths about the hidden world of government-sponsored cybercrime then you should definitely check it out.

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