Cyberattacks on cryptocurrency exchanges have been a major source of funds for North Korea over the past year, a United Nations report has revealed. According to the document, the sanctioned nation also expanded its nuclear and missile programs.
North Korea hits cryptocurrency exchanges, sanctions monitors say
Hackers controlled by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) continued to target financial institutions and crypto platforms such as exchanges, Reuters reported citing a confidential UN report. Its annual edition, produced by independent sanctions monitors and submitted to the Security Council sanctions committee for North Korea on Friday, says:
Cyberattacks, especially on cryptocurrency assets, remain a major source of revenue [for DPRK].
The report further details that, according to a member state, “DPRK cyber actors stole more than $50 million between 2020 and mid-2021 from at least three cryptocurrency exchanges in North America, Europe and the United States. Asia”.
The monitors also cite an estimate from Chainalysis which recently revealed that the Pyongyang regime launched as many as seven attacks against crypto companies in 2021, resulting in the theft of nearly $400 million in digital assets. “These attacks primarily targeted investment firms and centralized exchanges,” the blockchain analytics firm explained in January.
In 2019, UN sanctions monitors reported that North Korea had amassed around $2 billion from increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks. The digital money was allegedly used to fund its weapons of mass destruction programs. Their latest report notes:
Although no nuclear test or ICBM launch [intercontinental ballistic missiles] have been reported, the DPRK has continued to develop its nuclear fissile material production capacity.
The authors are confident that the maintenance and development of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile infrastructure has not stopped. They also point out that the country, which has been under UN sanctions since 2006, has ramped up its ballistic missile testing, having carried out nine launches in January, the highest monthly number to date.
Do you think North Korean hackers will continue to carry out cyberattacks on cryptocurrency exchanges? Let us know in the comments section below.
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