September 15, 2023

North Korea’s Hacks Declined by 80%, Report Says

North Korean Hackers

North Korean Hackers

A recent report by Chainalysis, a blockchain forensics company, revealed that cryptocurrency stolen by hackers linked to North Korea has decreased by 80% since 2022.

However, the decrease in numbers may not necessarily mean there has been progress in security or reduced criminal activity. The total amount of cryptocurrency stolen as of September 14 was $340.4 million, significantly lower than the record of $1.65 billion stolen in 2022. The report cautions that the high benchmark set in 2022 should not be forgotten.

“In reality, we are only one large hack away from crossing the billion-dollar threshold of stolen funds for 2023,” the report said.

In the past ten days, two separate hacks have been linked to North Korea’s Lazarus Group – Stake ($40 million) on September 4 and CoinEx ($55 million) on September 12. These attacks have resulted in a loss of over $95 million.

According to Chainalysis, North Korea-linked attacks have accounted for approximately 30% of all cryptocurrency funds stolen in hacks this year. Erin Plante, the Vice President of Investigations at Chainalysis, expressed concern about the group’s continued success in stealing cryptocurrency and the added national security threat posed by North Korea.

She noted that cryptocurrency firms should train employees to counter social engineering tactics used by hacker groups to strengthen defenses against attacks, adding: “With North Korean-linked hackers in particular, sophisticated social engineering tactics that take advantage of the trusting and carelessness of human nature to gain access to corporate networks has long been a favored attack vector. Teams should be trained on these risks and warning signs.”

Meanwhile, Chainalysis discoevered that North Korean hackers have been depending more on specific exchanges based in Russia to launder illegal funds.

According to the firm, North Korea has utilized various Russian-based exchanges since 2021. One notable incident involved the transfer of $21.9 million in illicit funds from Harmony’s $100 million bridge hack on June 24, 2022.

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