Hackers with ties to North Korea launched at least seven cyberattacks on cryptocurrency platforms in 2021, resulting in about $400 million in digital assets, The Guardian reported, citing a report from software company Chainalysis.
“Between 2020 and 2021, the number of hacking attacks related to North Korea increased from four to seven, and the benefits received from these attacks increased by 40 percent,” the company said in the report.
“Immediately after receiving the funds, the DPRK began careful money-laundering processes to conceal and cash out the funds,” the report stresses.
Chainalysis notes that most of the activities of hackers affiliated with the DPRK targeted investment firms and centralized exchanges. The hackers used phishing attacks, malware, and sophisticated social engineering to siphon funds from organizations.
Reportedly, much of the cyberattacks were likely carried out by the Lazarus Group, a hacker group that is under U.S. sanctions. The group has been accused of hacking into international banks, customer accounts, and a 2014 cyberattack on Sony (T:6758) Pictures Entertainment.
According to Chainalysis, Pyongyang has also stepped up efforts to launder stolen cryptocurrency by expanding its use of software tools. The report states that researchers found $170 million in unlaundered cryptocurrency stocks from 49 cyberattacks between 2017 and 2021.
According to The Guardian, UN experts accused the DPRK of using the stolen funds to support the development of nuclear and ballistic missile programs to circumvent sanctions.
The newspaper recalls that last year, the United States filed charges of hacking against three North Korean programmers working for the North Korean intelligence service. As noted, according to Washington, their cybercrimes were aimed at stealing more than $ 1.3 billion in conventional currency and cryptocurrency, in addition, their activities have affected the work of various companies, banks and film studios in Hollywood.