North Korean Hackers Reportedly Stole $600M in Crypto in 2023 | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

TRM Labs reported that North Korean hackers pilfered at least $600 million in cryptocurrencies in 2023. The figure might climb to $700 million, pending confirmation of additional hacks from last year.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) emerged as a major perpetrator in crypto thefts, accounting for nearly one-third of all stolen funds in the past year, the report finds. This marked a decrease from their $850 million loot in 2022. Notably, hacks linked to North Korea proved ten times more destructive than others. TRM also finds that since 2017, Pyongyang-affiliated threat actors have siphoned off nearly $3 billion in cryptocurrencies.

What is the target?

As per the report, North Korean hackers predominantly breach digital wallets by accessing private keys and seed phrases, crucial for wallet security. They then divert victims’ assets to addresses under North Korean control. These assets, primarily converted to USDT or Tron, are turned into hard currency through high-volume over-the-counter (OTC) brokers.

In the past two years, DPRK hackers have reportedly stolen around $1.5 billion.

Involvement of now-sanctioned Tornado Cash

Last month, the U.S., South Korean, and Japanese national security officials met to discuss North Korea’s cryptocurrency thefts in the larger context of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The White House elaborated that the National Security Advisors evaluated ongoing trilateral initiatives. These included consultations on regional crises, sharing ballistic missile defense data, and countering DPRK’s use of cryptocurrency for its unlawful weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs.

In 2022, North Korean hackers targeted cryptocurrency experts with counterfeit Coinbase job offers. This tactic was part of their broader cybercrime strategy.

Last year, Tornado Cash founders were indicted for laundering over $1 billion, including funds for the Lazarus Group, a sanctioned North Korean state-backed hacking group.

In this context, U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland highlighted the scheme’s intent to aid criminals in laundering and concealing funds using cryptocurrency. This included laundering hundreds of millions for the North Korean cybercrime group, sanctioned by the U.S. government.


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