DPRK hackers stole $600 million worth of cryptocurrency in 2023

North Korea's Cyber Heist

Threat actors affiliated with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (also known as North Korea) have looted at least $600 million worth of cryptocurrency in 2023.

The DPRK “was responsible for nearly a third of all funds stolen in crypto attacks last year, despite a 30% reduction from $850 million in 2022,” says blockchain analytics firm TRM Labs. said last week.

“Hacks committed by the DPRK were on average ten times more damaging than hacks not related to North Korea.”

There is evidence that additional violations By focusing on the crypto sector by the end of 2023, this figure could rise to around $700 million.

Targeting cryptocurrency companies is not new for North Korean state-sponsored actors, who have stolen about $3 billion since 2017.

These financially motivated attacks are seen as a crucial revenue-generating mechanism for the sanctions-affected country, funding its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programs.

The North Korean cyber heist

The intrusions use social engineering to lure targets and typically aim to compromise private keys and seed phrases – used to protect digital wallets – and then use them to gain unauthorized access to and steal victims’ assets. to wallets under the threat actor’s control. .

“They are then typically exchanged for USDT or Tron and converted into hard currency using major OTC brokers,” according to TRM Labs.

The company further noted that North Korean hackers continued to explore other money laundering tools after the US Treasury Department sanctioned a crypto-mixing service known as Sinbad for processing a portion of their proceeds, indicating a constant evolution despite pressure from law enforcement.

“With nearly $1.5 billion stolen in the past two years alone, North Korea’s hacking prowess requires continued vigilance and innovation from businesses and governments,” TRM Labs said.


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