There is often an uneasy connection between cryptocurrencies and hacks and theft. Per Chainalysis, North Korea remains the main culprit behind these incidents. Hackers from the country stole close to $400 million in crypto through cyberattacks in 2021.
North Korea Continues Its Hacking Efforts
Most people will not be surprised to learn North Korea still funds hackers to attack public infrastructure. Interestingly, a lot of effort has been put into attacking cryptocurrency companies and platforms. While the initial focus was on obtaining Bitcoin, the world’s leading cryptocurrency’s share has now dropped to 20%. Ethereum has taken over the lead, representing 58% of all funds stolen. The remainder covers ERC-2o tokens and various altcoins.
Attacks coming out of North Korea mainly target investment firms and centralized exchanges. Common attack methods include phishing, code exploits, malware, and advanced social engineering. However, the human part of a decentralized world remains the biggest point of failure. Any stolen cryptocurrency acquired by the DPRK is used to bypass economic sanctions and fund nuclear weapon and ballistic missile research.
Unfortunately, it would appear that North Korea and its army of hackers remain an advanced persistent threat. North Korean hackers have become more present in the past few years than other attack vectors. Moreover, the amount of cryptocurrency stolen per year is rising again, which is rather problematic.
Laundering the stolen funds occurs through multiple solutions, ranging from chain chopping to Peel Chain and coin swaps or mixing. Coin mixers remove any taint from an existing crypto balance and issue the user a ‘fresh set” of coins with no direct link to the original money. Moreover, decentralized exchanges make it easy to convert such currencies due to deep liquidity.