The North Korean regime managed to steal more cryptocurrency last year than in previous years, according to a draft UN report. Despite the differences in the estimates cited, the authors conclude that 2022 is a record year for crypto theft and is blamed on the hermit state.
Cybercrime groups linked to North Korea get their hands on over $1 billion worth of crypto in a single year
North Korea stole more crypto assets in 2022 than in any other year, according to a United Nations report due out later this month or in early March. The draft, seen by Reuters and Nikkei Asia, reveals how the isolated country has been able to evade cyberattacks and international regulations to raise funds.
The document, still classified at this time, was presented to the UN Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee on Friday. The findings in it are based on information provided by UN member states and cybersecurity firms.
Its authors cite different estimates. The one produced by South Korea suggests that Pyongyang-controlled hackers acquired $630 million worth of crypto during the investigation period, while cybersecurity firms assess that the virtual currency they acquired exceeded $1 billion. In any case, the independent sanctions watchdog believes that
the value of cryptocurrency assets stolen by DPRK actors in 2022 is higher than in any previous year.
one-tenth of the total value stolen from Korean accounts
The report noted that fluctuations in the U.S. dollar equivalent of cryptocurrencies in recent months likely influenced these estimates, while at the same time emphasizing that both estimates indicated that 2022 was a record year for crypto theft related to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Similar conclusions arise from data compiled by Chainalysis. Last week, the U.S.-based blockchain forensics firm said that hackers associated with North Korea, including members of the Lazarus Group, were particularly active last year, stealing about $1.7 billion worth of coins.
The Seoul-based Chosun Ilbo, citing intelligence officials, wrote Tuesday that about 10% of the total was extracted from the accounts of South Korean companies and individuals. It also said it believed the funds were laundered and used to fund the North’s nuclear and missile development programs.
The sanctions watchdog said most of the cyberattacks were carried out by hacking teams controlled by North Korea’s General Directorate of Reconnaissance, the communist state’s main intelligence agency, and included groups such as Kimsuky and Andariel as well as Lazarus. The UN report also noted that the techniques they employ are becoming more sophisticated.