According to an unclassified study from the United Nations, cybercriminals operating out of North Korea stole more digital assets in 2022 than in any previous year.
According to Reuters, the UN report was sent to a 15-person committee that is in charge of imposing sanctions on North Korea one week ago.
Following attacks on the computer networks of international aerospace and military corporations, it was discovered that hackers with ties to North Korea were responsible for between $630 million and more than $1 billion worth of crypto assets being stolen in 2017.
The United Nations research found that cyber assaults were more sophisticated than in previous years, making it more difficult than it has ever been to track down monies that have been stolen.
The independent sanctions monitors stated in their report to the United Nations Security Council Committee that “[North Korea] used increasingly sophisticated cyber techniques both to gain access to digital networks involved in cyber finance and to steal information of potential value, including information related to its weapons programs.”
A report published on February 1 by the blockchain analytics company Chainalysis came to a similar conclusion last week. According to this report, North Korean hackers were responsible for the theft of at least $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency in 2022, making it the worst year ever for crypto hacking.
According to the company, the cybercriminal syndicates have been the most “productive bitcoin hackers over the last several years.”
According to Chainalysis, “For comparison, North Korea’s entire exports in 2020 comprised $142 million worth of products,” thus it isn’t a reach to argue that hacking cryptocurrencies is a major portion of the nation’s economy.
According to Chainalysis, at least $1.1 billion of the stolen wealth was acquired via hacks of decentralized finance protocols. This indicates that North Korea was one of the driving factors behind the trend of hacking decentralized financial protocols that accelerated in 2022.
The company also discovered that hackers with ties to North Korea often transfer huge quantities of money to mixers like Tornado Cash and Sinbad.
According to Chainalysis, the pace at which assets stolen by other persons or organizations are transferred to mixers is far lower than the rate at which funds stolen by hackers with ties to North Korea are transferred.
North Korea has frequently denied allegations that it is responsible for cyberattacks; however, the new UN report alleges that North Korea’s primary intelligence bureau, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, utilizes several groups such as Kimsuky, Lazarus Group, and Andariel specifically for the purpose of conducting cyberattacks.
According to the report published by the United Nations, “these actors continued to illicitly target victims in order to earn income and solicit information of value to the DPRK, particularly its weapons programmes.”
Last week, the entire report was presented to the North Korea sanctions committee of the 15-member council. According to recent reports, it is expected that the report will be made public either later this month or early in March.