North Korean hackers reportedly launched at least seven attacks on cryptocurrency platforms last year, stealing nearly $400 million worth of digital assets. A report by blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis.
“From 2020 to 2021, the number of North Korea-related hacks jumped from four to seven, and the value extracted from these hacks increased by 40 percent,” the report said.
These attacks primarily target investment firms and centralized exchanges.
The hackers used sophisticated tactics such as phishing lures, code attacks, malware and advanced social engineering to siphon funds from the groups’ internet-connected “hot wallets” into addresses controlled by North Korea, the report said.
“Once North Korea gained custody of the funds, they began a careful money-laundering process to cover up and cash out,” the report said.
In 2021, Ethereum and Bitcoin will account for 58% and 20% of funds, respectively; 22% will come from ERC-20 tokens or altcoins.
The report also said that citing United Nations Security Council, North Korea used the money through hackers to support its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile-related programs.
According to the analysis, the Lazarus Group — a hacking group affiliated with the Reconnaissance General Directorate, North Korea’s main intelligence agency — is suspected of carrying out the attack. Lazarus Group has previously been accused of Sony Pictures entertainment and want to cry.
More than 65 percent of North Korea’s stolen funds were laundered through mixers — software tools that pool and scramble digital assets from thousands of addresses.
North Korea also has an unlaundered cryptocurrency fund from 49 separate hacks from 2017 to 2021, believed to be worth $170 million.
“It’s unclear why the hackers are still sitting on the funds, but it could be that they hope law enforcement’s interest in these cases will fade so they can cash out without being watched. Whatever the reason, North Korea is willing to hold The length of time these funds are available is instructive, as it suggests a prudent plan rather than a desperate and hasty plan,” the report said.