According to a report, North Korea’s elite army of 7,000 hackers stole $400 million in digital assets last year.
Blockchain experts say the regime launched at least seven attacks on crypto platforms during one of its most successful years.
A report from Chainanalysis published on Thursday said: “From 2020 to 2021, the number of hacks involving North Korea has increased from four to seven, and the value obtained from these hacks has increased by 40%. “.
“Once North Korea gained control of the funds, it began a careful money-laundering process to cover up and withdraw the funds,” the report added.
Experts say Kim’s cyber army is comparable to the CIA in expertise and causing chaos when dubbed “the world’s biggest bank robbers”.
The regime’s technological wizards are trained to steal billions of dollars globally – something that tyrant Kim Jong-un spends on his weapons and nuclear missile program.
North Korea did not respond to media questions, but has previously issued statements denying the hacking allegations.
Last year, the United States charged three North Korean computer programmers who worked for the country’s intelligence agency with a massive, years-long hack.
The campaign aims to steal more than $1.3 billion in coins and cryptocurrencies, affecting companies ranging from banks to Hollywood movie studios.
Chainalysis did not identify all of the targets of the attacks, but said they were primarily investment firms and centralized exchanges.
These include Liquid.com, which announced in August that an unauthorized user had gained access to several crypto wallets it manages.
Attackers used advanced phishing, code-mining, malware, and social engineering tactics to extract funds from these organizations’ internet-connected “hot” wallets into locations. only controlled by North Korea, the report said.
Many of last year’s attacks were likely carried out by the Lazarus Group, a US-sanctioned attack group that says it is controlled by the Reconnaissance General Administration, North Korea’s main intelligence agency.
The group has been accused of involvement in the WannaCry ransomware attacks, attacks on international banks and customer accounts, and the 2014 cyberattacks on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Chainalysis said North Korea is also stepping up efforts to launder stolen cryptocurrency, significantly increasing its use of mixers or software tools to pool and shuffle cryptocurrencies from thousands of addresses.
The report says researchers have identified $170 million in old, as-yet-unrevealed crypto holdings from 49 separate hacks spanning 2017 to 2021.
The report said it was not clear why the hackers continued to use these funds, but said they could have hoped to bypass law enforcement interest before withdrawing the cash.
Chainalysis concludes: “Whatever the reason may be, the length of time North Korea is willing to hold these funds is making clear, because it suggests careful planning, not a a desperate and hasty plan,” concluded Chainalysis.
Experts warn Kim’s adept hackers pose a bigger threat to the world than Vladimir Putin’s cybercrime in Russia.
The crippling attacks on NHS hospitals and Sony Pictures in recent years are a “wake-up call” given their growing reach.
Other targets in over 150 countries include military sites, international banks, and Bitcoin investors.
And last year, it was reported as the keyboard warriors of Pyongyang Attempts to infiltrate drug manufacturer Pfizer to steal its Covid vaccine secrets.
Long ago, in 2003, a South Korean expert warned North Korea’s cyber activity was “on par with the CIA” – but the US dismissed this as propaganda.
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/8203990/north-korea-hackers-stole-crypto-kim-nukes/ North Korea’s army of hackers stole $400 million in crypto last year ‘to fund Kim’s nuclear weapons’