According to the 22nd of December report from AP News, the hackers sponsored by North Korea have stolen an estimated 1.5 trillion won, worth around $1.2 billion, in cryptocurrencies from worldwide since 2017. In this report, the AP News cited NIS, the National Intelligence Service, the main spy agency of South Korea.
According to the report, the National Intelligence Service believes that North Korea is among the best in the world when it comes to stealing crypto. Because North Korea turned its focus to cybercrime after the United Nations’ economic sanctions were toughened in 2017 in response to the country’s nuclear and missile tests.
Today, in the launch of the NIS Cyber Cooperation Center, the main spy agency of South Korea said that the North Korean hackers were specifically targeting Defi, decentralized finance platforms. This year, the hackers stole 800 billion won, worth around $626 million, alone through ransomware and other hacking threats. And from this sum, around $78 million has come from South Korea.
According to the NIS, South Korea was also exposed to various attacks in the Web3 space, such as the metaverse and NFTs, non-fungible tokens. In November this year, the NIS blocked more than 1.18 million attacks by national and international hacking organizations.
According to Yonhap, a local news agency of the country, North Korea is reportedly using the stolen crypto to help fund its nuclear and missile programs. And in February, a report from Reuters revealed that North Korea’s missile programs rely heavily on revenue from cyberattacks. And in August this year, the US Treasury Department banned Americans from using Tornado Cash, the Ethereum coin mixer, citing its role in assisting these state-sponsored cyberattacks.
Moreover, in a $622 million hack of Sky Mavis’s Ethereum sidechain Ronin in March this year, Lazarus, an infamous North Korea state-sponsored cybercriminal group, was involved. According to the NIS, North Korea has ramped up its cyber threats and other online attacks in protest of international sanctions on its missile and nuclear programs.