Actors From North Korea Steal Digital Assets Worth $3 Billion In Six Years

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Hacks and thefts are some of the drawbacks that come from the wider advantages of the crypto industry, due to the anonymity of crypto transactions. According to a new report, state-sponsored hackers from North Korea have stolen around $3 billion in digital currency since 2017, with approximately 44% of stolen cryptocurrency in 2022 traced to these hackers.

Intelligence Report Reveals Amount Of Crypto Stolen By North Korean Hackers

The crypto industry started gaining mainstream attention in 2017, as investors flocked into the nascent industry. However, it would seem the inflow of money and adoption also attracted many bad actors. A recent report from intelligence company Recorded Future has reiterated a common belief in crypto, showing how hackers from North Korea have targeted the industry in recent years. 

Many Illicit activities have been attributed to North Korea over the years. Estimates in 2016 noted that illicit economic activities generate $550 million to $1 billion annually for the country. The report from Recorded Future found that North Korean hackers backed by the country’s government shifted their attention from traditional finance to crypto around the 2017 bubble when money started flowing into the industry. 

With syndicates like the Lazarus Group at the helm of many hack attacks, these hackers have been able to get away with more than $3 billion worth of crypto assets. These attacks were mostly aimed at crypto exchanges in South Korea in the beginning, stealing crypto worth approximately $82.7 million at the time. 

As of today, the market cap of cryptocurrencies stood at $1.45 trillion. Chart:

Crypto Security Vs Hacker Innovation

The hackers have expanded their operations over the years. Majority of the proceeds from these attacks came in 2022, an estimated $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency. Recorded Future noted that this amount, which is worth 10 times more than the value of the country’s $182 million worth of exports in 2021, 5% of the economy, or 45% of its military budget, was likely used to finance some of the country’s projects.

Security measures and regulations to counter crypto hacks and thefts have been developed over the years. Sanctions have been imposed on mixers like Sinbad and Tornado Cash regularly employed by hackers to clean stolen funds. At the same time, hackers have upped their games, developing new methods to carry out their activities. According to blockchain security firm SlowMist, more than $30 billion has been lost to crypto hacks since 2012.

Security measures have led to a drastic drop in crypto crimes in the past months, but another intelligence report has shown that North Korean hackers made away with at least $180 million in the first half of 2023. Blockchain audit company Certik recently pointed out that approximately $363 million were lost to exploits, hacks and scams in November 2023.


Combining all the incidents in November we’ve confirmed ~$363M lost to exploits, hacks and scams

This makes November the most damaging month this year

Exit scams were ~$1.1M

Flash loans were ~$45.5M

Exploits were ~$316.4M

See more details below 👇

— CertiK Alert (@CertiKAlert) November 30, 2023

Featured image from Shutterstock

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