Crypto Thefts Linked to North Korea Dropped to $600M in 2023: Reports

Crypto Thefts Linked to North Korea Dropped to $600M in 2023: Reports

By: Isha Das


In 2023, North Korea-associated actors reportedly pilfered around $600 million worth of digital currencies, marking a 30% decrease from the $850 million stolen the previous year. The collective total of theft by these hackers over the past six years has reached $3 billion. Renowned blockchain analytical firm, TRM Labs, warns of potential disruptions by these accomplished cybercriminals in the future despite advances in security measures.

These statistics depict the, on average, tenfold damage caused by hacks associated with North Korea compared to those unrelated. Several cases of cryptocurrency theft have been traced back to hacker-controlled wallets tied to North Korea, such as the substantial Ronin bridge exploit, which resulted in a heist of over $600 million in assets.

Prominent breaches last year included a $60 million attack on the cryptocurrency payment service Alphapo in July, a $37 million theft from CoinsPaid in June, and the robbery of over $100 million from Atomic Wallet. The rogue nation still grappling with the pressure of economic sanctions from Western countries is heavily dependent on unlawfully obtained crypto assets and illicit enterprise proceeds to fund its weapons program.

Typically, the hackers' strategy involves acquiring private keys and seed phrases linked to digital wallets, then leveraging crypto mixers to convert their assets into USDT or Tron. However, these hackers have shown adaptability and diversification in their laundering strategies in response to Western imposed sanctions, reducing their use of frequently used mixing platforms like Tornado Cash and ChipMixer. Widespread phishing operations targeting the cryptocurrency community on popular messaging application Telegram have also been associated with these attackers.

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