- UN investigates $3 billion North Korean crypto thefts.
- Hacking Groups Target Cryptocurrency Firms to Fund WMD Development
- UN report highlights the misuse of crypto in illicit Asian economies.
The United Nations (UN) is poised to expose North Korea’s alleged six-year, $3 billion cyberattack campaign against cryptocurrency firms, as reported by Reuters.
This comes amidst growing concerns about the misuse of crypto in illicit activities and its potential contribution to North Korea’s weapons program.
Unpublished UN Documents Reveal 58 Crypto-Related Attacks
An independent sanctions committee is spearheading the investigation, according to unpublished UN documents obtained by Reuters.
“The panel is investigating 58 suspected DPRK cyberattacks on cryptocurrency-related companies between 2017 and 2023, valued at approximately $3 billion, which reportedly help fund DPRK’s WMD development.”
These documents reveal that North Korean hacking groups targeted 58 cryptocurrency-related companies between 2017 and 2023, amassing a staggering $3 billion.
Accordingly, these stolen funds are believed to be funneling directly into North Korea’s weapon of mass destruction (WMD) development efforts.
DPRK Hackers: A Persistent Threat
North Korea’s hacking activities have been under scrutiny for years.
In 2023 alone, Chainalysis estimated that these groups stole roughly $1 billion worth of crypto across 20 hacking incidents. This represents a decrease compared to 2022’s $1.7 billion in losses. Hence experts warn that their tactics are evolving.
2024: Bracing More Attacks
Blockchain intelligence firm TRM Labs predicts a significant escalation in 2024, with North Korean hackers potentially surpassing their previous exploits.
“Despite notable advancements in cybersecurity among exchanges and increased International collaboration in tracking and recovering stolen funds, 2024 is likely to see further disruption from the world’s most prolific cyber-thief.”
Despite advancements in cybersecurity and international collaboration, TRM Labs forecasts “further disruption from the world’s most prolific cyber-thief.”
Beyond North Korea: Crypto’s Dark Side Emerges
The UN’s investigation into North Korea’s crypto exploits coincides with broader concerns about the misuse of cryptocurrencies in illicit economies.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime highlighted the alarming growth of poorly regulated online casinos and “pig-butchering” romance scams, particularly in East and Southeast Asia.
Although the UN’s investigation and the rising trend of crypto-related illicit activities underscore the need for urgent action. Stronger regulations, improved cybersecurity measures, and international cooperation are crucial to mitigate the risks posed by the misuse of cryptocurrencies.
Without concerted efforts, North Korea and other actors may continue to exploit crypto’s anonymity and volatility for nefarious purposes.