North Korea has launched at least seven attacks on cryptocurrency platforms that extracted nearly $400m worth of digital assets last year, one of its most successful years. 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%.
Once North Korea gained custody of the funds, they began a careful laundering process to cover up and cash out.North Korea is a bigger cyber-attack threat than Russia.
A UN experts that monitors sanctions on North Korea has accused Pyongyang of using stolen funds to support its nuclear and ballistic missile programs to circumvent sanctions. North Korea does not respond to media inquiries but has previously released statements denying allegations of hacking.
Earlier during last year US charged three North Korean computer programmers working for the country’s intelligence service with a massive, years-long hacking spree aimed at stealing more than $1.3bn in money and cryptocurrency, affecting companies from banks to Hollywood movie studios.
Mostly the targets of the hacks were primarily investment firms and centralised exchanges, including Liquid.com, which announced in August that an unauthorised user had gained access to some of the cryptocurrency wallets it managed.
The attackers used phishing lures, code exploits, malware and advanced social engineering to siphon funds out of these organisations’ internet-connected “hot” wallets into North Korea-controlled addresses, the report said.