Several publications in recent years indicated that North Korea had mounted attacks on exchange platforms in order to fund its nuclear weapons program. A recent UN report now shows that cryptocurrency theft would have increased again in 2021.
North Korea attacks exchanges
The first reports of such thefts had emerged as early as 2019. Always fiercely denied by North Korea, they reported that the country had formed attack groups, in order to steal funds from exchanges.
A new UN document, reported by the media Reuters, confirms this week that North Korea has not abandoned this practice, far from it. As a reminder, the UN Security Council has banned the country from conducting a nuclear weapons program, a ban it ignores. To fund this program, North Korea routinely attacks exchanges, and the amount stolen increased in 2021, again according to the UN document.
“Cyberattacks, particularly on crypto-assets, remain an important source of revenue.”
Hackers are reportedly targeting financial institutions as well as cryptocurrency exchange firms and platforms.
400 million dollars stolen by 2021
According to a UN member state, North Korea is estimated to have stolen more than $50 million between 2020 and 2021, across at least three exchanges. A recent report by Chainalysis, however, showed that the scale of the attacks could be even larger. According to it, a total of $400 million worth of cryptocurrencies were stolen over the year 2021.
This is very far from being the first report indicating the North Korean regime’s predisposition for cryptocurrencies. With the UN Security Council banning major exports, the country has turned to cryptoassets, which are less monitored. As a result, the hacker group Lazarus, which is reportedly linked to the government, is regularly in the news. The practice should therefore continue for North Korea.