According to United States cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, North Korean hackers have stolen around $3 billion in cryptocurrency since 2017, with greater than half of that quantity stolen prior to now yr alone.
Recorded Future indicated in a recent report that the quantity of stolen crypto equates to roughly half of North Korea’s entire military expenses for the yr:
“North Korean threat actors were accused of stealing an estimated $1.7 billion value of cryptocurrency in 2022 alone, a sum similar to roughly 5% of North Korea’s economy or 45% of its military budget.”
Since 2017, North Korea has significantly increased its deal with the cryptocurrency industry, stealing an estimated $3 billion value of cryptocurrency. pic.twitter.com/cES9gq2AK3
— Recorded Future (@RecordedFuture) November 30, 2023
Furthermore, the stolen amount surpasses the entire annual income from exports for the nation by a substantial margin.
“This amount can be almost 10 times greater than the worth of North Korea’s exports in 2021, which sat at $182 million,” the report stated.
Meanwhile, it explained that North Korean hackers initially targeted South Korea for its crypto, before expanding their focus to the remainder of the world:
“North Korean cyber operators shifted their targeting from traditional finance to this recent digital financial technology by first targeting the South Korean cryptocurrency market before significantly expanding their reach globally.”
It was noted that support from the North Korean government has led to a major expansion in the dimensions of the illicit operation.
“State backing allows North Korean threat actors to scale their operations beyond what is feasible for traditional cybercriminals,” the report declared.
In recent news, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on crypto mixer Sinbad, alleging the platform facilitated funds laundered for the North Korea-based Lazarus Group.
Related: US Treasury sanctions crypto mixer Sinbad, alleging North Korea ties
According to a UN report, cyber attacks were more sophisticated in 2022 than in previous years, making tracing stolen funds harder than ever.
Meanwhile, blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis labeled the cybercriminal syndicates as essentially the most “prolific cryptocurrency hackers over the previous couple of years.”
Additionally, Chainalysis noted that North Korea-linked hackers were moving funds through crypto mixers akin to Tornado Cash and Sinbad at a much higher rate than other criminal groups.
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