According to The Korea Herald report, North Korean state-sponsored cryptocurrency theft and money laundering have continued on a “massive scale” to generate illicit funds, while the total amount of stolen cryptocurrency jumped 40 percent just last year. North Korea-affiliated hackers launched “at least seven attacks on cryptocurrency platforms that extracted nearly $400 million worth of digital assets last year,” Blockchain data platform Chainalysis Inc. said on Wednesday in its 2022 Crypto Crime Report.
The number of North Korean-linked hacks grew from 4 to 7.
The Chainlaysis report shed light on a sharp increase in cryptocurrency theft by the Pyongyang regime, which the UN Panel of Experts has pointed to as the source of illicit financing for North Korea‘s ballistic missile and nuclear programs. “From 2020 to 2021, the number of North Korean-linked hacks jumped from four to seven, and the value extracted from these hacks grew by 40%,” the report revealed. The number of hackings to steal cryptocurrency had gradually reduced between 2018 and 2020, whereas the sum total of cryptocurrency theft rose between 2019 and 2021.
North Korea-linked hackers laundered roughly $91.35 million in various stolen crypto assets.
According to the report, the stolen cryptocurrency is generally deposited into crypto-to-fiat exchanges and cashed out through multi-stage and sophisticated laundering processes, such as crypto swapping, mixing, and consolidation. For instance, North Korea-linked hackers laundered roughly $91.35 million in various stolen crypto assets after hacking a cryptocurrency exchange last August. To conduct cyberattacks and siphon out funds, north Korean hackers also utilized “complex tactics and techniques,” including phishing lures, code exploits, malware, and advanced social engineering.
North Korea accused the US of stealing funds and committing underhanded cybercrime just days after the United Nations accused Pyongyang of conducting cyberattacks on crypto exchanges across countries.