North Korean hackers stole nearly $400 million worth of crypto through cyberattacks in 2021, according to a Chainanalysis report. This is nearly double what it was in 2019. According to the blockchain analytics firm, the focus seems to have changed. While Bitcoin made up the majority of all cryptocurrencies stolen by North Korean hackers in 2017, the share of the largest cryptocurrencies dropped to a fifth. Ethereum, on the other hand, is much more popular with criminals.
The attacks were mainly aimed at investment firms and central stock exchanges. The hackers used phishing lures, code exploits, malware, and advanced social engineering, according to Chainanalysis. They then took funds from the hot wallets of these organizations. Once the North Korean hackers obtained the funds, they began their careful money laundering operations to hide the origin of the funds.
North Korea is applying special money laundering tactics
However, the report does not suspect any private individuals to be behind the hacking attacks. Instead, he assumes that these are maneuvers directed by the North Korean government. A UN Security Council report suggests that North Korea will use stolen crypto assets to circumvent economic sanctions and finance nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
The threat that North Korean hackers pose to global crypto platforms is ever present, according to Chainalysis. The report describes how meticulously the criminals laundered the funds. The methods range from chain hopping to the “peeling chain” method and a complicated coin swapping and mixing system that hackers have been employing lately. The liquid.com hack on August 19, 2021, which lost $91 million in cryptocurrency, is a case in point.
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