Research Report Claims $400m Of Cryptocurrency Stolen By North Korea Hackers In 2021

According to a research, North Korean hackers stole about $400 million in digital assets through as many as seven attacks on cryptocurrency platforms last year.

Cyber-criminals in the secretive east Asian country had one of their most successful years on record for hacking last year, according to blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis.

Investment firms and centralised exchanges were the primary targets of the attacks, the report from the firm says.

North Korea has consistently denied involvement in hacking operations blamed on them.

“From 2020 to 2021, the number of North Korean-linked hacks jumped from four to seven, and the value extracted from these hacks grew by 40 per cent,” Chainalysis said in a report.

According to the firm, the cyber criminals utilised multiple techniques of hacking including phishing lures, code exploits, and malware to syphon funds from “hot” wallets of the companies and organizations and shift them to accounts that were controlled by North Koreans.

Cryptocurrency hot wallets are essentially vulnerable targets of hackers because they are connected to the internet and cryptocurrency networks. Such wallets are used to send and receive cryptocurrency, while also allowing users to view the number of digital tokens that they have in their accounts.  

According to many cyber security experts, cryptocurrency owners should move any cryptocurrencies that they do not need for day to day activities to “cold” wallets because of safety reasons as such wallets are not connected to the wider internet.

The so-called Lazarus Group, a group of hackers on which the United States has imposed sanctions, were most likely behind any of the attacks conducted by North Korean hackers last year,

The Reconnaissance General Bureau, North Korea’s main intelligence agency, is thought to be in charge of the organisation.

The Lazarus Group has been accused previously of being involved in the “WannaCry” ransomware attacks, hacking of multinational banks and customer accounts, and cyber-attacks on Sony Pictures in 2014.

“Once North Korea gained custody of the funds, they began a careful laundering process to cover up and cash out,” the report on last year’s cyber attacks added.

Pyongyang is suspected of using misappropriated money to support its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in order to dodge international restrictions, according to a UN panel that monitors North Korean sanctions.

Separately, the US charged three North Korean computer programmers in February of last year with a huge cyber spree aimed at stealing more than $1.3 billion in cash and bitcoin.

According to the Department of Justice, the cyber attacks impacted businesses ranging from banks to Hollywood movie studios.

(Adapted from OutlookIndia.com)

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