North Korean hackers stole around $400 million worth of cryptocurrency through cyberattacks on digital currency outlets last year, the data platform said on Thursday. blockchain chain analysis.
Pyongyang is under multiple international sanctions for its atomic bomb and ballistic missile developments, but analysts say the North has also beefed up its cyber capabilities with an army of thousands of well-trained hackers who siphon finance to finance the state’s weapons programs.
In 2021, those hackers launched seven attacks on platforms cryptocurrencies, extracting assets from “‘hot’ wallets connected to the Internet” and moving the funds to accounts controlled by North Korea, according to a report published by chain analysis on your website.
“Once North Korea obtained custody of the funds, they began a careful laundering process to cover them up and collect them,” he explained.
“These complex tactics and techniques have led many security researchers to characterize cyber actors from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) as advanced persistent threats,” it said.
He also highlighted the rise of Lazarus Group, which gained notoriety in 2014 when it was accused of hacking Sony Pictures Entertainment as revenge for “The Interview,” a satirical movie that mocked leader Kim Jong Un.
“As of 2018, the group has stolen and laundered massive sums of virtual currencies each year, typically in excess of $200 million.”
Hackers also target a diverse variety of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, the world’s largest digital currency, accounts for only a quarter of stolen assets.
“The growing variety of stolen cryptocurrencies has necessarily increased the complexity of the DPRK’s cryptocurrency laundering operation,” according to chain analysis.
The North Korean cyber program dates back to at least the mid-1990s, but has since grown into a 6,000-strong cyber warfare unit, known as Bureau 121, operating from various countries, including Belarus, China, India, Malaysia and Russia, according to a 2020 US military report.
North Korea and the constant provocation
The US this week imposed new sanctions on North Korea after Pyongyang announced that it had carried out hypersonic missile tests on January 5 and 11.
On Friday, South Korean and Japanese officials said North Korea fired an unidentified projectile to the east in its third suspected weapons test in just over a week.