Hacker groups linked to North Korea have stolen about $2.3 billion in cryptocurrency since 2017, including $721 million from Japanese entrepreneurs. writes Publication Nikkei Asia citing research data from Elliptic, a company specializing in the analysis of blockchain-based platforms.
The report states that North Korean hackers have been targeting other countries’ cryptocurrency holdings in order to obtain the foreign currency needed to implement their country’s missile program. North Korean hackers stole between $600 million and $1 billion in cryptocurrencies in 2022, according to a UN Security Council panel. That’s twice as much as stolen last year. Elliptic estimates the amount of funds stolen in 2022 was $640 million.
According to the source, North Korea not only conducts hacking attacks but also uses ransomware to steal cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency exchanges from Japan are most often targeted by North Korean hackers. It is noted that attackers mainly rely on direct attacks, since if successful they can gain more advantages than the use of ransomware, which is far from always effective. According to the report, the main targets of the hackers were participants in the rapidly developing cryptocurrency markets of Japan and Vietnam. Between 2018 and 2021, at least three Japanese crypto exchanges were hacked by North Korean hackers.
Elliptic estimates that North Korean hackers stole approximately $2.3 billion in cryptocurrencies worldwide between 2017 and the end of 2022. At the same time, $721 million goes to Japan, another $540 million to Vietnam, $497 million to the US and $281 million to Hong Kong. According to the Japan Foreign Trade Development Organization, the $721 million stolen from the country is 8.8 times North Korea’s exports in 2021.