North Korean hackers have pilfered $3B of crypto over past six years: Report

North Korean hackers have pilfered $3B of crypto over past six years: Report


According to United States cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, North Korean hackers have stolen around $3 billion in cryptocurrency since 2017, with more than half of that amount stolen in the past year alone.

Recorded Future indicated in a recent report that the amount of stolen crypto equates to approximately half of North Korea’s entire military expenses for the year:

“North Korean threat actors were accused of stealing an estimated $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency in 2022 alone, a sum equivalent to approximately 5% of North Korea’s economy or 45% of its military budget.”

Furthermore, the stolen amount surpasses the total annual income from exports for the nation by a considerable margin.

“This amount is also almost 10 times more than the value 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 rest of the world: 

“North Korean cyber operators shifted their targeting from traditional finance to this new 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 significant expansion in the scale of the illicit activity operation. 

“State backing allows North Korean threat actors to scale their operations beyond what is possible 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 more difficult than ever.

Meanwhile, blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis labeled the cybercriminal syndicates as the most “prolific cryptocurrency hackers over the last few years.”

Additionally, Chainalysis noted that North Korea-linked hackers were moving funds through crypto mixers such as Tornado Cash and Sinbad at a much higher rate than other criminal groups.

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