North Korean hackers stole nearly $ 400 million worth of cryptocurrencies in 2021, one of the most lucrative years for cybercriminals in a severely isolated country, according to a new report.
The hackers launched at least seven separate attacks last year, mostly targeting corporate investments and centralized exchanges with a variety of tactics, including phishing, malware and social engineering, according to a report by cryptocurrency tracking company Channelis.
Cybercriminals try to gain access to organizations’ “hot” wallets: Internet-connected digital wallets, and then transfer funds to accounts controlled by DPRK. Thefts are a recent indication that a heavily sanctioned country relies on a network of hackers to fund its local programs.
A confidential UN report had earlier accused North Korean leader Kim Jong Un of paying for weapons and “operating against formerly moving financial institutions and virtual currencies” to push the country forward with the North Korean economy.
Last February, the US Department of Justice charged three North Korean nationals with stealing more than 3 1.3 billion from banks and businesses around the world and organizing crypto thefts. Digital currency.
“North Korea, for the most part, has become isolated from the global financial system through a series of lengthy sanctions campaigns by the United States and its foreign partners.” Said Nick Carlsen, an analyst at blockchain intelligence firm TRM Labs. “As a result, they are essentially on the digital battlefield to steal cryptocurrencies. [a] High-speed internet to fund bank robberies, weapons programs, nuclear proliferation and other activities.
This has benefited North Korea’s hacking efforts. Rising prices and the use of cryptocurrencies in general have made digital assets increasingly attractive to malicious artists, leading to more successful cryptocurrency thefts in 2021.
Most of the thefts in the past year have been carried out by the Lazarus Group, a hacker group with ties to North Korea that was previously linked to the Sony Pictures hack, according to ChannelIllis. This means that the people of North Korea, in addition to approving cyber security protection measures, have no real chance of being extradited to crimes such as CrimeNQL.
As the cryptocurrency market becomes more popular, we are likely to see continued interest from North Korea in targeting young and cryptocurrency companies that are building cyber defense and anti-virus controls – money laundering, “Carlsen said. .