North Korean Hackers Looted $2B in Crypto Over Five Years, Reports Blockchain Data Firm

North Korean Hackers Rake in Over $2 Billion in Crypto Through 30 Attacks in 5 Years.

In a comprehensive blog post recently published by blockchain analytics firm TRM Labs, it has been revealed that North Korean hackers have managed to siphon off a staggering sum of more than $2 billion in cryptocurrency over the span of five years. This substantial figure was amassed through a series of 30 distinct attacks targeting various cryptocurrency projects.

The focal point of North Korean cyber exploits in recent times has been the burgeoning realm of decentralized finance (DeFi). Among their particular areas of emphasis, cross-chain bridges have emerged as a critical focus for these hackers, allowing them to exploit vulnerabilities in these interconnected systems.

The TRM report also sheds light on the recent progression of North Korean hacking activities. The data highlights that in the current year, these hackers have successfully pilfered an estimated $200 million worth of cryptocurrency. This figure accounts for approximately a quarter of the total amount seized in the preceding year. Astonishingly, the year’s statistics underscore that North Korean cybercriminals are responsible for a substantial 20% of the entire crypto haul in 2023.

One noteworthy aspect highlighted by TRM is the evident evolution of North Korean hacking tactics, particularly in the realm of on-chain laundering methodologies. The initial methods employed by North Korea typically involved direct utilization of cryptocurrency exchanges. However, due to mounting pressures from more aggressive Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions, increased law enforcement focus, and heightened tracing capabilities, these hackers have now transitioned to employing complex, multi-stage money laundering procedures.

This strategic shift is seen as a direct response to the growing challenges they face in carrying out their illicit activities without being apprehended. Their adoption of intricate money laundering techniques showcases the hackers’ resilience and adaptability in the face of heightened scrutiny and international efforts to curb their criminal endeavors.

A noteworthy technique that has come to light is “chain-hopping.” This is a method utilized by the hackers to obfuscate their tracks and launder the stolen funds effectively. As outlined by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), chain-hopping entails the conversion of one type of cryptocurrency into another and subsequently transferring the funds across multiple blockchain networks.

In summary, the TRM Labs report paints a vivid picture of North Korean hackers’ continuous efforts to exploit weaknesses in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, resulting in the pilfering of over $2 billion within the last five years. Their focus on decentralized finance, intricate laundering techniques, and the employment of tactics like chain-hopping underscore the urgency for heightened security measures within the cryptocurrency landscape. As international authorities and security experts strive to counteract these threats, the ongoing battle against cybercriminals remains a critical concern for the cryptocurrency industry.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. Cryptocurrency investments are subject to market risks, and individuals should seek professional advice before making any investment decisions.

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