North Korean hackers stole more cryptocurrencies in 2022 than in any previous year, according to a confidential report obtained by Reuters on Monday from the United Nations. This is yet another indication that the hermit state is evading international sanctions to raise revenue.
Targeting the networks of global aerospace and defense industries, hackers with ties to North Korea stole crypto assets worth between $630 million and $1 billion last year, the UN report disclosed.
Independent sanctions monitors revealed to a UN Security Council committee that North Korea “utilized more sophisticated cyber tactics to obtain access to digital networks involved in cyber banking and to steal information of potential value, including for its weapons programs.”
North Korean Hackers Get Orders From Reconnaissance General Bureau
The majority of alleged cyber attacks were masterminded by entities controlled by the Reconnaissance General Bureau, North Korea’s premier intelligence body, according to sanctions monitors.
The Kimsuky, Lazarus, Andariel, and other North Korean hackers took orders from RGB and were being tracked by international cybersecurity agencies, according to the sanctions team.
The sanctions sentinels stated that the groups employed malware through a variety of means, including phishing. One such effort targeted employees in organizations in the public and private sector in multiple nations.
Image: Bleeping Computer
Hacking And Boosting Weapons Program
In addition to investigating the purported export of North Korean military communications equipment, the team also began looking into accusations of munitions exports, Nikkei Asia reported.
The research also accuses North Korea of continuing to produce nuclear fissile materials. Furthermore, the report indicates that North Korea tested at least 73 ballistic missiles and missiles combining guidance technologies, including eight intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Image: KCNA/Reuters
North Korea is intensifying its nuclear tests and accelerating its nuclear weapons development under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, despite the country’s ailing economy.
Blockchain Analytics Firm Reaches Similar Conclusion
Last week, a study by the blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis reached a similar conclusion, attributing North Korean hackers to at least $1.7 billion in stolen crypto assets in 2022, making it the worst year ever for crypto hacking.
The figure is nearly four times the previous record for digital currency theft in the country, which was over $430 million in 2021.
The haul also accounted for 44% of the $3.8 billion stolen in crypto thefts in 2022, which the company described as “the largest year ever for crypto hacking.”
Crypto total market cap at $1 trillion on the daily chart | Chart: TradingView.com
Meanwhile, the United States has accused the Russian mercenary firm Wagner Group of obtaining weapons from North Korea in order to boost Russian soldiers in Ukraine.
North Korea has disputed the allegation, and Wagner’s owner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has denied receiving weapons from the North.
In January this year, the FBI verified that Lazarus Group, which has ties to North Korea, orchestrated a $100 million crypto theft on the Horizon bridge blockchain network in 2022.
Globally, it is anticipated that cybercrime would cost $11 trillion yearly by 2025. According to a report by Purplesec US, the global yearly damages as a result of cybercrime is projected to be $6 trillion per year.
Featured image from VOI