North Korea Hackers Stole Over $1 Billion in Crypto in Record Heists

Chainalysis reports North Korea-tied hacking groups stole crypto from 20 platforms in 2023, smashing the previous record as they hauled over $1 billion.

Key Insights

  • North Korea-tied hackers attacked record 20 crypto platforms in 2023, stealing over $1 billion.
  • Figure is down from 2022’s haul of $1.7 billion but hacks are up 40% showing Pyongyang’s growing cyber prowess.
  • Analysts tie hacking to sanctions evasion that funds nuclear weapons, calling for vigilance against prolific threat actors.

SEOULΒ – North Korea-affiliated hackers attacked a record 20 cryptocurrency platforms in 2023, blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis said in a report, part of a dramatic rise in cyberattacks that netted Pyongyang over $1 billion last year.

The number of hacks was up 40% from 2021, though the value of crypto stolen by North Korean hackers dropped from the record $1.7 billion in 2022 amid last year’s digital asset market plunge.

North Korea-linked hacks have been on the rise over the past few years, with cyber-espionage groups such as Kimsuky and Lazarus Group utilizing various malicious tactics to acquire large amounts of crypto assets, Chainalysis said.

Another report by TRM Labs said North Korean-tied hackers stole at least $600 million worth of virtual coins last year.

Cyber thieves affiliated with North Korea plundered over $1 billion in cryptocurrencies last year, attacking 40% more crypto platforms than their previous annual record.
Source: Chainalysis

The United States sanctioned cryptocurrency mixer in November, identifying it as a tool for Lazarus Group to launder proceeds from major platform breaches.

Analysts say North Korea’s hacking programs are part of a sanctions evasion effort that helps fund nuclear weapons development made illegal by U.N. Security Council resolutions.

With nearly $1.5 billion stolen over two years, TRM Labs warned business and governments they face serious threats from Pyongyang’s seasoned cyber thieves and called for increased collaboration to recover stolen funds.

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