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North Korean Hackers Stole $600 Million in Crypto in 2023

Crypto In its latest report, TRM Labs has revealed that hacking groups associated with North Korea, specifically the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), were responsible for approximately one-third of all cryptocurrency stolen through hacks in 2023. The blockchain intelligence firm estimates that North Korean hackers potentially seized up to $700 million in crypto during
In its latest report, TRM Labs has revealed that hacking groups associated with North Korea, specifically the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), were responsible for approximately one-third of all cryptocurrency stolen through hacks in 2023. The blockchain intelligence firm estimates that North Korean hackers potentially seized up to $700 million in crypto during the year, with $600 million confirmed through its research. This marks a significant escalation, bringing the total amount of crypto pilfered by DPRK hackers to around $3 billion since 2017.

TRM Labs noted that North Korean hacking techniques are continually evolving to circumvent international law enforcement efforts. The report highlights the hackers’ consistent compromise of users’ private keys or seed phrases, followed by the transfer of funds to DPRK-controlled wallets, ultimately converting the assets into stablecoins like Tether (USDT) or Tron (TRX).

The firm emphasized the need for ongoing vigilance and innovation in cybersecurity from both businesses and governments, despite advancements and increased collaboration in tracking and recovering stolen funds. The United States Treasury Department has previously imposed sanctions on individuals and hacking groups linked to North Korea, including Lazarus. Despite these sanctions, TRM Labs reported that the DPRK has been exploring alternative money laundering tools following restrictions on cryptocurrency mixers like Tornado Cash and Sinbad.

According to CertiK’s January 3 report, there were approximately 751 crypto breaches in 2023, resulting in a total loss of over $1.8 billion, with DPRK hackers allegedly responsible for one-third of these incidents. Ethereum bore the brunt of the losses, recording $686 million over 224 incidents.

As the world grapples with the growing threat of North Korean cyber-attacks on the cryptocurrency sector, the report concludes that 2024 is likely to witness further disruptions from one of the world’s most prolific cyber-thieves.

Wasif Shakir

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