Researchers have discovered that North Korea stole nearly $400 million worth of cryptocurrencies, especially Ethereum, in 2021, demonstrating the continued success of its national strategy for hacking and laundering digital money.
An isolated country reeling from sanctions from the United States and other countries has long relied on its corps of hackers to invade financial institutions around the world to steal money. In recent years, these hackers have become increasingly focused on companies that process and trade cryptocurrencies that are stored in digital wallets and can easily be sent around the world when hackers access them.
Last year, the United Nations reported that North Korea hacked and stole $316 million in virtual assets between 2019 and 2020 for use in its nuclear weapons program.
This tactic was particularly effective last year, according to researchers at Chainalysis, a company that monitors transactions on the blockchain, a type of public record that tracks all transactions in most cryptocurrencies. North Korean hackers have successfully breached at least seven cryptocurrency exchanges and laundered money. The company said.
Many cryptocurrencies have risen in value in recent years, and software developers have become greener with projects that allow users to exchange one type of cryptocurrency for another or exchange cryptocurrency for cash. You have created the entire system. While many major exchanges follow guidelines to collect information about users to combat money laundering, the Internet is also opening the door to malicious attackers such as North Korean hackers. It’s full of places I don’t care about.
According to a survey by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, also released Thursday, North Korea has a dedicated hacking team that has been steadily attacking small and medium-sized businesses dealing with cryptocurrency and related projects. Such companies are often the target of hackers who stole a record $14 billion in digital currency last year.
Unlike many criminals who receive cryptocurrencies, North Korea is in no hurry to convert them to fiat currencies right away, says Erin Blunt, senior director of Chainalysis Research and author of the report. rice field.
Instead, take advantage of the fact that major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have increased in value in recent years, consistently cleaning up a modest amount of hacked cryptocurrencies and about 100 million old hacks. She said she owns $70 million.
“It’s very strategic. They don’t cash in quickly,” Blunt says. “They’re looking at a lot,” she said, while they waited.