Home Blockchain North Korea Stole Over $600 Million in Crypto in 2023: Report

North Korea Stole Over $600 Million in Crypto in 2023: Report

North Korea Stole Over $600 Million in Crypto in 2023: Report

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North Korea was responsible for greater than $600 million worth of crypto being stolen in 2023, blockchain intelligence company TRM labs announced Friday.

State-sponsored attacks supporting weapons of mass destruction

According to TRM Labs’ latest report, the analytics data firm suggests that the total could be closer to $700 million following a number of unconfirmed hacks committed in the final days of 2023 thought to be committed by North Korea.

TRM Labs’ data follows a year that saw the U.S. government enact a number of sanctions against several of North Korea’s state-sponsored crypto-related malware initiatives, including crypto mixer Sinbad and hacking collective Lazarus Group, both of which sharing the goal of obtaining virtual currency to support the authoritarian regime’s military expansion.

“The DPRK’s use of illicit facilitation networks to access the international financial system and generate revenue using virtual currency for the regime’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programs directly threatens international security,” said Brian E. Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, following sanctions last year. “The United States and our partners are committed to safeguarding the international financial system and preventing its use in the DPRK’s destabilizing activities, especially in light of the DPRK’s three launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) this year alone.”

North Korean hacks are 10x more damaging than their counterparts

TRM labs claims an estimated $3 billion worth of crypto has been stolen by Pyongong-based actors since 2017. 

Moreover, the data analytics firm found crypto-related hacks backed by the government of North Korea to be at least ten times more damaging than their counterparts.

Since “the DPRK’s money laundering methods constantly evolve to evade international law enforcement pressure,” the country “continued exploring other laundering tools” following the U.S. government’s hard-hitting sanctions last year.

Nearly $1.5 billion stolen by DPRK in the past two years alone 

In total, the North Korean government was responsible for one-third of all funds stolen in crypto attacks in 2023 alone, TRM Labs alleges. Despite international vigilance, it remains to be seen what to expect from the country’s crypto-related malware in 2024.

“With nearly USD 1.5 billion stolen in the past two years alone, North Korea’s hacking prowess demands continuous vigilance and innovation from business and governments,” the latest report from TRM Labs reads. “Despite notable advancements in cybersecurity among exchanges and increased international collaboration in tracking and recovering stolen funds, 2024 is likely to see further disruption from the world’s most prolific cyber-thief.”

Source: iStock / welcomia

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