It has been reported that North Korean hackers stole nearly $400 million worth of digital assets through a minimum of seven attacks on cryptocurrency networks in 2021.
The blockchain data platform, Chainalysis reported that it was one of the most prosperous years for cyber-gangsters in North Korea. As reported, these attacks were primitively aimed at investment firms and centralized exchanges. The closed East Asian state started to launder the funds in custody only to cover up the theft.
In the report, Chainalysis said,
“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 techniques and tactics used by the hackers had led many security investigators to identify cyber gangs for North Korea as advanced persistent threats (APTs). Techniques such as phishing lures, code exploits, malware, and advanced social engineering were used to drain funds out of the investment firms’ and exchanges’ internet-connected ‘hot’ wallets into Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)-controlled addresses.
Rise of Lazarus Group linked to cryptocurrency crime
The Lazarus Group had first gained fame through its cyberattacks, in 2014, on Sony Pictures Entertainment. This hack was supposedly an act of revenge for ‘The Interview’, a satirical movie that mocked the leader Kim Jong Un.
Conforming to the report, since 2018, the Group has been involved in the theft and laundering of a huge amount of cryptocurrency every year, generally in an overflow of $200 million.
It is said that the hackers aim at an array of cryptocurrencies, with Bitcoin (BTC), accounting for only one-fourth of the embezzled wealth.
A panel of the United Nations (UN) monitoring sanctions on North Korea has reportedly charged Pyongyang with using embezzled assets to support its nuclear and ballistic missile programs as an out to dodge international sanctions.
Furthermore, in February 2021, the US had charged three North Korean computer programmers with an extensive hacking rampage that had targeted to steal more than $1.3 billion in capital and cryptocurrency.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) said that this cyberattack on cryptocurrency impacted firms from financial institutions to movie studios in Hollywood.
At the time of writing, Bitcoin (BTC) was priced at $43,098.27 with a daily rise of 0.69%.