According to Chainalysis, North Korea launched seven attacks against cryptocurrency platforms last year that robbed nearly $400 million in digital assets. This was one of the most successful years of its history, according to a new report.
The report was released Thursday. It stated that “From 2020 to 2030, the number North Korean-linked hacks increased from four to seven and the value extracted these hacks grew to 40%,”
The report said that “once North Korea had custody of the funds, they started a careful laundering process in order to cover up and cashout.”
An UN panel of experts monitoring sanctions against North Korea has charged Pyongyang with using stolen funds in support of its nuclear and missile programs to bypass sanctions.
North Korea has not responded to media inquiries but has released statements that denied hacking allegations.
The United States indicted three North Korean computer programmers who worked for the intelligence service. They were accused of a huge, long-running hacking spree that aimed to steal more than $1.3 Billion in cryptocurrency and money, which affected companies from banks, Hollywood studios, and even banks.
Chainalysis didn’t identify all of the hackers, but stated that they were primarily investment companies and central exchanges like Liquid.com. Liquid.com announced in August that an unauthorized user had gained access some of its cryptocurrency wallets.
According to the report, attackers used code exploits, phishing, malware and advanced social engineering in order to siphon funds from these organisations that were connected online into ‘hot’ wallets. The money was then sent to North Korean addresses.
Many of the attacks last year were likely to have been carried out by Lazarus Group, a hacking organization sanctioned and supported by the United States. It claims it is controlled the Reconnaissance General Bureau which is North Korea’s primary intelligence agency.
This group is accused of hacking international banks, launching ransomware attacks and attacking Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014 with cyber-attacks.
Chainalysis reported that North Korea appeared to be increasing its efforts to steal cryptocurrency. It also increased its use of mixers or software tools that pool and scramble crypto from thousands of addresses.
According to the report, $170 million was found in unlaundered cryptocurrency assets from 49 different hacks that span 2017-2021.