New Report Exposes $3 Billion in Crypto Stolen by North Korean Hackers
A recent revelation shines a spotlight on the darker side of the crypto industry: a string of thefts and breaches.
Unveiled in a recent report, the shadowy realm of state-backed North Korean hackers has siphoned off a staggering $3 billion in digital currencies since 2017. Alarmingly, 44% of the pilfered crypto in 2022 has been traced back to these sanctioned cybercriminals.
The Rise of Crypto Theft: Insights from Intelligence
As the crypto industry soared into the mainstream limelight back in 2017, it unwittingly beckoned nefarious elements seeking easy gains. This new report, courtesy of intelligence experts at Recorded Future, reaffirms the long-held suspicion within the crypto sphere: North Korean hackers have been meticulously targeting the industry in recent years.
North Korea’s Pursuit of Ill-Gotten Gains
Known for a slew of illicit endeavors, North Korea has steered its clandestine operations towards the crypto landscape since the industry’s surge in 2017. With notorious entities like the Lazarus Group leading the charge, these hackers orchestrated a series of heists, initially focusing on South Korean exchanges and making off with a substantial $82.7 million in crypto assets.
The Crypto Arms Race
The illicit activities escalated rapidly. In 2022 alone, a staggering $1.7 billion in cryptocurrencies was brazenly purloined, dwarfing the nation’s export value by tenfold. This substantial sum, accounting for 5% of the country’s economy or a whopping 45% of its military budget, likely financed a slew of covert state projects.
Efforts to fortify against such breaches have been ongoing, with sanctions targeting platforms like Sinbad and Tornado Cash, commonly utilized by hackers to launder stolen funds. However, cybercriminals continue to evolve their tactics. Blockchain security firm SlowMist reports a staggering $30 billion lost to crypto breaches since 2012.
Despite improved security measures denting crypto crime, recent intelligence reports paint a grim picture: North Korean hackers absconded with a substantial $180 million in the first half of 2023. Blockchain audit firm Certik also highlights losses amounting to approximately $363 million due to exploits, hacks, and scams in November 2023.