This is not the first time North Korea has been involved in cybercrime. The country of Pyongyang has been stealing cryptos to fund its nuclear weapons program for several years now. According to a recent AP News report, North Korean hackers stole a sum of $1.2 billion in crypto during a five-year period.
Over $1 billion in crypto stolen to fund its weapons program
Cybercrime is commonplace in North Korea. It is easy to think that it is part of the country’s culture. The government does not hesitate to finance hacker groups. In any case, the case of LAZURUS is not isolated.
According to the recent report of the South Korean spy agency, relayed by the media AP News, North Korea’s hackers have stolen about 1.5 trillion won in crypto. That’s a value of $1.2 billion over the past five years, more than half of which was stolen this year alone.
The men in Pyongyang didn’t start today. In August 2019, Reuters published a confidential UN report. In it, experts revealed that the government is organizing hacks to steal funds from financial institutions and crypto exchanges. The main objective is to finance their nuclear weapons program.
In fact, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has turned to cyber attacks to make weapons of destruction. It has launched this program since 2017.
Are these acts likely to get worse next year?
The National intelligence service fears that North Korea will increase its crimes in 2023. It said that the country currently has a great capacity to organize a large-scale attack. Since the UN imposed economic sanctions on it, it has strengthened its hacking ability.
In early December, the United States, North Korea and Japan established new sanctions against the North Korean authorities involved. The decision came in response to a large number of nuclear and missile tests during the year.
North Korea turns to crypto blenders to launder stolen funds
In response to the North Korean government’s attacks, the United States has led a lawsuit against platforms that simplify the laundering of stolen funds from North Korea. As a result, they have turned to cryptocurrency mixers including Blender.io and Tornado Cash.
Last August, OFAC, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control banned Tornado cash from operating. The U.S. authorities have also arrested some of its designers. According to OFAC, crypto blenders facilitate money laundering.
The U.S. Treasury had claimed that Lazarus‘ group was using Tornado Cash, and many other hackers. In fact, the Lazarus group, is supported by the Pyongyang government to organize cyber attacks. It is also known for hacking Axie Infinity’s Ronin blockchain, which had been robbed of about $625 million.
North Korea has always denied the accusations against it and regarding its sponsorship of the Lazarus group.
In any case, to save yourself from possible attacks, keep your cryptos in a wallet that you have full control of.
Coming from a journalism university background, I came across Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies not long ago.
The potential of the Blockchain seduced me and I made it my research topic.