According to a research by blockchain analysis company Chainalysis, North Korean hackers attempted at least seven assaults against cryptocurrency platforms last year, stealing about $400 million in digital assets.
“From 2020 to 2021, the number of North Korean-linked hacks increased from four to seven, with the value taken from these attacks increasing by 40%,” according to the research.
Investment businesses and centralised exchanges were the primary targets of the assaults.
According to the study, the hackers used complicated methods like as phishing lures, code vulnerabilities, malware, and clever social engineering to drain monies from the companies’ internet-connected “hot wallets” into DPRK-controlled accounts.
“Once North Korea had possession of the monies, they launched a thorough laundering operation to cover up and payout,” according to the study.
In 2021, Ethereum and Bitcoin accounted for 58 percent and 20 percent of the money, respectively; ERC-20 tokens or altcoins accounted for 22 percent.
According to the report, which cited the United Nations Security Council, North Korea utilised the money obtained via hacking to finance its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile-related projects.
The Lazarus Outfit, a hacker group affiliated with North Korea’s premier intelligence agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, is accused of carrying out the assaults, according to the analytical report. The Lazarus Group has previously been blamed for the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack and WannaCry.
Mixers — software tools that combine and scramble digital assets from hundreds of addresses — were used to launder more than 65 percent of North Korea’s stolen money.
North Korea also has unlaundered crypto money totaling $170 million that were obtained via 49 distinct cyberattacks from 2017 to 2021.
“It’s unclear why the hackers would still be holding on these monies, but it’s possible they’re anticipating that law enforcement interest in the cases would wane, allowing them to pay out without being observed.” Whatever the reason, the amount of time that the DPRK is ready to keep these assets is revealing, as it reflects a methodical strategy rather than a frantic and rushed one,” according to the research.
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