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North Korean Hackers Stole $400M in Cryptocurrency Last Year


cryptoknowmics.com 14 January 2022 08:30, UTC
Reading time: ~2 m

North Korean hackers stole almost $400 million worth of cryptocurrencies from at least seven attacks on crypto platforms last year, blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis said in a report. The report noted that it was one of the most successful years on record for hackers to steal such large amounts of crypto with the attacks mainly targeted at investment firms and centralized exchanges.

“From 2020 to 2021, the number of North Korean-linked hacks jumped from four to seven, and the value extracted from these hacks grew by 40 percent,” said the report, which was released on Thursday.

Many of last year’s attacks were likely carried out by the Lazarus Group, a hacking group sanctioned by the United States, which is believed to be controlled by North Korea's primary intelligence bureau, the Reconnaissance General Bureau. The attackers used a number of techniques to launder the stolen cryptocurrencies including mixers, or software tools that pool and scramble cryptocurrencies from thousands of addresses to siphon funds from the organizations' hot wallets and then move them into North Korean-controlled addresses, Chainalysis said.

“Once North Korea gained custody of the funds, they began a careful laundering process to cover up and cash out,” the report added.

Per the report, Bitcoin now accounts for less than one-quarter of the stolen cryptocurrencies or 20 percent of the stolen funds. In contrast, Ethereum makes up the vast majority of stolen funds with 58 percent. The report also identified $170 million in old, unlaundered cryptocurrency holdings from 49 separate hacks from 2017 to 2021.

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