North Korean hackers have stolen about $400 million worth of cryptocurrency in at least seven major attacks on crypto platforms over the past year. “Only 20% of the stolen funds were bitcoin… And for the first time ever, ether made up a majority of the stolen funds at 58%,” said blockchain data analysis firm Chainalysis.
North Korean hackers stole $400 million worth of crypto last year
Blockchain analysis platform Chainalysis published an analysis on North Korean hackers and their unwashed cryptocurrency holdings on Thursday. The company described:
North Korean cybercriminals had a stellar year in 2021, launching at least seven attacks on cryptocurrency platforms that stole nearly $400 million worth of digital assets over the past year.
“These attacks were mainly aimed at investment firms and centralized exchanges,” the firm said.
The hackers “used phishing decoys, code exploits, malware and advanced social engineering” to divert funds from the companies’ hot wallets to addresses controlled by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Chainalysis added, stating:
After North Korea gained custody of the funds, they began a painstaking laundering process to cover up and pay out the funds.
Chainalysis noted that “in 2021, North Korean hacking activity has increased again. From 2020 to 2021, the number of North Korea-related hacks increased from four to seven, and the value extracted from those hacks grew by 40%.”
The firm also noted that bitcoin now accounts for less than a quarter of cryptocurrencies stolen by North Korea, adding:
In 2021, only 20% of stolen funds were bitcoin, while 22% were either ERC-20 tokens or altcoins. And for the first time ever, Ether accounted for a majority of the stolen funds at 58%.
“More than 65% of DPRK’s stolen funds were laundered through mixers this year, up from 42% in 2020 and 21% in 2019, suggesting that these threat actors have taken a more cautious approach with each passing year,” the concluded Company.
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