UN: Half of North Korea's foreign currency income comes from cyberattacks

Recent studies by the United Nations have shed light on the extent to which North Korea has engaged in cyberattacks, including hacking and theft of cryptocurrencies, to "prop up" its economy and advance its weapons development programs.
The United Nations (UN) is an international non-profit organization created to promote political and economic cooperation among member states.
The report covers the period from 2017 to 2023 and details a series of cyber attacks aimed at companies associated with cryptocurrency. It highlights the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) strategy towards this new industry.
Cryptocurrency brings income from abroad
The United Nations said North Korea actively engaged in cyber operations deemed "malicious" to generate approximately half of its foreign exchange earnings to support its weapons development programs.

The organization noted, referring to information from “one State Party”:
“The Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) malicious cyber activities generate approximately 50 percent of its foreign currency earnings and are used to finance its weapons programs.”
With losses from these cyberattacks estimated at $3 billion, the UN estimate highlights the massive network of state-sponsored hacking operations and their importance in funding approximately 40% of North Korea's weapons of mass destruction program.

The amount of funds stolen as a result of North Korean cyber attacks. Source: TRM

It is important to note that the data provided by the United Nations is consistent with previous estimates of the United States, which is further supported by the latest analysis reports from our colleagues at Chainalysis. 2023 sees a significant increase in vulnerabilities in crypto platforms, with North Korea linked to a record number of hacks.
Adapting to the changing cyber landscape
While the overall value of stolen assets has dropped significantly from previous years, North Korean hackers continue to aggressively adapt to security measures using increasingly "sophisticated" tactics, according to Joe Dobson, lead analyst at cybersecurity firm Mandiant.
“They look at what's changing, what's evolving, and how it can be used for their own malicious purposes. Whatever progress there is, they will find a way to take advantage of it.” - said Dobson.
Tools like the Tornado Cash cryptocurrency mixer provide another example of this phenomenon. According to the latest report, North Korean hackers associated with the notorious Lazarus group used Tornado Cash to launder approximately $12 million in one day after the Heco Bridge hack.

Use of mixers by North Korean hackers between 2020 and 2022. Source: Chainalysis

The Lazarus Group's increased reliance on Tornado Cash comes amid the limited availability of other mixing services following law enforcement pressure on platforms such as Sinbad.io and Blender.io.
This news once again shows us that the threat of hacking, loss of your funds and involvement in money laundering is quite real for everyone. We, as users of blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies, must be prepared for them.

Wallet verification is an important step to ensure the safety of your assets and one of the main methods of combating threats in the crypto world. We can easily answer the question “how to check the purity of a crypto wallet” - the aml check service Btrace, a free first check for each new user.
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