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North Korean hackers said to have stolen nearly $400 million in cryptocurrency last year

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North Korean hackers stole nearly $400 million worth of cryptocurrency in 2021, making it one of the most profitable years yet for cybercriminals in the severely isolated country, according to a new report

Hackers launched at least seven different attacks last year, mostly targeting corporate investments and centralized exchanges with a variety of tactics including phishing, malware and social engineering, according to a report by Chainalysis, a company that tracks cryptocurrencies. 


Cybercriminals attempted to gain access to organizations’ “hot” wallets: Internet-connected digital wallets, and then transfer funds to accounts controlled by the DPRK. The thefts are the latest indication that the heavily sanctioned country continues to rely on a network of hackers to help fund its domestic programs. 

A confidential UN report previously accused North Korean regime leader Kim Jong Un of carrying out “operations against formerly moving financial institutions and virtual currency” to pay for weapons and keep the country afloat North Korean economy. 

Last February, the US Department of Justice  charged three North Koreans with conspiring to steal more than $1.3 billion from banks and businesses around the world and orchestrating crypto thefts. digital currency.

“North Korea is, in most respects, cut off from the global financial system by a long sanctions campaign by the United States and its foreign partners.” said Nick Carlsen, an analyst at blockchain intelligence firm TRM Labs. “As a result, they have taken to the digital battlefield to steal cryptocurrencies, essentially [a] high-speed internet bank robbery, to fund weapons programs, nuclear proliferation and other activities. 

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North Korea’s hacking efforts have benefited from this.The rise in value of Rising prices and the use of cryptocurrencies have generally made digital assets increasingly attractive to malicious actors, which led to more successful cryptocurrency thefts in 2021. 

According to Chainalysis, most of the thefts in the past year were committed by the Lazarus Group, a hacker group with ties to North Korea that was previously  linked to the  Sony Pictures hack, among other incidents. ie North Koreans, in addition to sanctiones cybersecurity defensive measures such as crimes such as criminql have no real chance of being extradited. 

As the cryptocurrency market becomes more popular, “we are likely to see continued interest from North Korea in targeting cryptocurrency companies that are young and that are building  cyber defenses and anti-virus controls. -money laundering,” Carlsen said.



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