North Korea Hackers Stole $1.7B of Crypto
According to a report by blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis, North Korea hackers stole $1.7 billion worth of crypto to fund the country's nuclear programme.
The cryptocurrency industry faced a challenging year in 2022 because of harsh market conditions and a surge in crypto hacks. The Chainalysis reports says that two significant spikes in hacking activities were recorded in March and October, with losses of $732.4 million and $775.7 million, respectively. The latter became the biggest single month in history for crypto hacking, with 32 separate attacks.
Record-breaking year for North Korean hackers
Chainalysis reported that North Korea-linked hackers stole an estimated $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency in 2022. Of this total, $1.1 billion was taken from DeFi protocols, marking a significant increase from the previous record of $429 million in 2021. The report reveals that North Korea, facing heavy sanctions, relies on crypto theft to fund its nuclear plans. The illicit funds represent a "sizeable chunk" of North Korea's economy, which generated $142 million in total exports in 2020.
Use of decentralized finance protocols and coin mixers The Chainalysis report also highlighted that North Korea hackers often send stolen funds to other DeFi protocols, usually decentralized exchanges (DEXs), to swap for more liquid assets. These hacks often result in the theft of illiquid tokens not listed on centralized exchanges.
The firm has also noted that these hackers use coin mixers to launder stolen funds at a higher rate than other individuals or groups. Tornado Cash was a frequently used mixer, but following OFAC sanctions, the hackers have diversified their mixer usage, particularly in Q4 2022.
According to other experts, North Korea also launders stolen crypto via brokers in China and NFTs.
A new Bitcoin mixer, Sindbad, has recently emerged as a tool to launder stolen funds. North Korea-linked hackers were detected on the platform in December 2022, and from that period to January 2023, they sent 1,429.6 Bitcoin worth almost $24.2 million to the mixer.
Author: Priya Kumari
Priya is a passionate content writer and the co-founder of Finendorse. She is an enthusiastic crypto investor and has a huge interest in the upcoming digitisation age.