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North Korean hackers steal $400mn in cryptocurrency in 2021: Report

BI Report || BusinessInsider

Published: 15:50, 15 January 2022   Update: 16:23, 15 January 2022
North Korean hackers steal $400mn in cryptocurrency in 2021: Report

Photo: Collected

North Korean hackers stole nearly $400 million worth of cryptocurrency in 2021, making it one of the most lucrative years to date for cybercriminals in the severely isolated country, according to a new report.

Hackers launched at least seven different attacks last year, reports CNN.

They primarily targeted investment firms and centralised exchanges with a variety of tactics, including phishing, malware and social engineering, according to the report from Chainalysis, a firm that tracks cryptocurrency.

The cybercriminals worked to gain access to organizations’ “hot” wallets — digital wallets that are connected to the internet — and then move funds into DPRK-controlled accounts.

The thefts are the latest indication that the heavily sanctioned country continues to rely on a network of hackers to help fund its domestic programs.

A confidential United Nations report previously accused the regime of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, of conducting “operations against financial institutions and virtual currency exchange houses” to pay for weapons and keep North Korea’s economy afloat.

Last February, the US Justice Department charged three North Koreans for conspiring to steal more than $1.3 billion from banks and companies around the world and orchestrating digital heists of cryptocurrency.

The North Korean hacking efforts have benefited from the surging value of cryptocurrencies.

The rise in cryptocurrency prices and usage has generally made digital assets increasingly attractive to malicious actors, leading to more blockbuster crypto heists in 2021.