North Korea-Linked Hackers Steal $340.4 Million in Cryptocurrency in 2023

North Korea-linked hackers have stolen $340.4 million in cryptocurrency in 2023, marking an 80% decrease from the previous year. Find out more about the decline and its impact.

Posted 8 months ago in Security


Image: Illustration of a hacker stealing cryptocurrency from a digital wallet

Crypto bad actors from the DPRK have stolen $340.4 million in 2023, down from $1.7 billion from the prior year, but that's no reason to feel at ease.

Cryptocurrency stolen by North Korea-linked hackers is down a whopping 80% from 2022 — but a blockchain forensics firm says it isn’t necessarily a sign of progress.

As of Sept. 14, 2023, North Korea-linked hackers have stolen a total of $340.4 million worth of cryptocurrency, down from a record $1.65 billion reported funds stolen in 2022. “The fact that this year’s numbers are down is not necessarily an indicator of improved security or reduced criminal activity,” Chainalysis said in a Sept. 14 report. “We must remember that 2022 set a dismally high benchmark.”

Over the past 10 days, North Korea’s Lazarus Group has been linked to two separate hacks — Stake ($40 million) on Sept. 4 and CoinEx ($55 million) on Sept. 12, combining for a loss of over $95 million. With the latest two hacks, North Korea-linked attacks have made up for about 30% of all crypto funds stolen in hacks this year, noted Chainalysis.

Meanwhile, Chainalysis has found that North Korean hackers have become increasingly reliant on certain Russian-based exchanges to launder illicit funds over the last few years. The firm said North Korea has been using various Russian-based exchanges since 2021. One of the largest laundering events involved $21.9 million in funds transferred from Harmony’s $100 million bridge hack on June 24, 2022.

United States-sanctioned cryptocurrency mixers Tornado Cash and Blender have also been used by Lazarus Group in the Harmony Bridge hack and other high-profile hacks committed by the group.

The United Nations is making an effort to curtail North Korea’s cybercrime tactics at the international level — as it is understood North Korea is using the stolen funds to support its nuclear missile program. Meanwhile, the firm hopes increased smart contract audits will make life tougher for these hackers.

Last updated 9/14/2023, 8:11:28 PM

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