North Korean hackers have allegedly stolen approximately $3 billion worth of cryptocurrency since 2017, intensifying their activities during the last year, claims US cybersecurity firm Recorded Future. The firm’s report suggests that in 2022, the hackers robbed cryptos amounting to twice their military budget and ten times their national export income.
The report elaborated that North Korean malicious cyber operators initially targeted the cryptocurrency market of South Korea before expanding their attacks globally. The estimated stolen cryptocurrency in 2022 is around $1.7 billion, equivalent to 5% of the North Korean economy, or 45% of its military budget. Notably, this amount is tenfold larger than the nation’s export income of $182 million in 2021.
The extent of the plundered cryptocurrency presents an alarming picture of North Korea’s illicit activities in the surge of cryptocurrencies. The scale of this operation allegedly receives state backing, allowing their malignant hackers to operate on a scale unmatched by traditional cybercriminals.
Furthermore, the increasing sophistication of North Korean cyber attacks noted in a UN report has been augmented in recent news. The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control recently sanctioned crypto mixer Sinbad for allegedly aiding North Korea-based Lazarus Group in laundering funds.
With the analysis of these cyber theft activities, blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis identified the North Korean hackers as the most active cryptocurrency cyberspace criminals in recent years. Furthermore, Chainalysis flagged that these North Korea-linked hackers used crypto mixers like Tornado Cash and Sinbad far more frequently than other criminal groups, making the process of tracing stolen funds increasingly challenging.