UN officials in a media briefing alleged that North Korea used stolen digital assets worth several millions of dollars as a source of revenue to fund its nuclear and ballistic missile program. It also mentioned that between 2020 and mid-2021 North Korean cyber-attackers stole more than $50 million of digital assets.
The report was handed to the UN’s sanctions committee on Friday. As per the findings, the cyber-assault targeted at least three cryptocurrency exchanges and investment firms across North America, Europe, and Asia.
Citing a study published by online security platform Chainalysis last month that suggested North Korean cybercriminals could have netted a staggering $400 million worth of cryptos last year.
And back in 2019, the UN reported that North Korea had amassed an estimated $2 billion for its weapons of mass destruction programs using sophisticated tools to launch these cyber-attacks.
Despite imposing massive sanctions, the UN report says North Korea continues to seek material, technology, and know-how overseas, including through cyber means and joint scientific research.
North Korea’s crypto crimes- Chainalysis Report
As per the report by the security firm, several of last year’s attacks were most probably led by the banned Lazarus Group. The US claims it is supported by North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau, the country’s top intelligence agency.
In addition to that, the group is accused of being involved in a number of incidents such as the WannaCry ransomware attacks, the hacking of customer accounts, foreign banks, and cyber-attacks on Sony Pictures Entertainment way back in 2014.
According to Chainalysis, North Korea has accelerated its attempts to launder stolen cryptocurrency considerably by increasing its usage of mixers, or software tools that scramble & pool money from hundreds of addresses.
It is worthwhile to mention that the majority of the digital assets stolen by the country hackers in the last year did not comprise the world’s dominant crypto Bitcoin, according to the research. In fact, a mere 20% of the assets taken in 2021 were Bitcoins, while 22% consists of altcoins or ERC-20 tokens, and for the first time in crypto heist history, ether accounted for 58% of the stolen funds.