North Korean Crypto Attacks Increase A Record Number Of Hacks, But A Declining Total Loot In 2023


While the frequency of North Korean-linked crypto platform breaches peaked in 2023, the value of the stolen assets fell sharply. Cyberattacks have increased significantly to 20 in the last year, according to Chainalysis, a blockchain monitoring business.

Operatives from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) have been connected to these instances, and they have successfully exploited these vulnerabilities to steal slightly more than $1 billion worth of cryptocurrency. The theft of digital assets has changed, since this amount is 40% lower than the $1.7 billion lost in 2022.

Hackers from North Korea have long sought out cryptocurrency as a means to evade “international sanctions,” as described by US authorities. A “broader trend in the crypto security environment,” especially with regard to decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, is reflected in the fall of stolen funds.

Theft using DeFi protocols decreased by 64% in 2023, reaching $1.1 billion, compared to $3.1 billion the year before. Chainalysis claims that “heightened security measures” and “reduced overall activity in DeFi spaces” are to blame for the decrease in theft.

While the hackers’ success rate in large heists may have decreased, “the threat’s not going away by any means,” said Erin Plante, VP of investigations at Chainalysis, commenting on their new techniques.

According to Bloomberg, North Korean hackers are becoming smarter and more creative as crypto companies tighten their security.

Cybersecurity expert Joe Dobson of Mandiant said that these bad actors keep tabs on the ever-changing environment in order to take advantage of technological developments.

According to Dobson, They keep an eye on developments in order to take advantage of any changes in strategy. They will figure out a way to benefit from whatever innovation it is.

A decline in stolen sums may be attributable to “investor behavior” as much as to better security measures or less DeFi activity.

According to Allan Liska, a senior intelligence analyst at Recorded Future Inc., investors may have dispersed their assets across other platforms in response to high-profile incidents like as the FTX crash. This strategy would reduce the amount of money that may be stolen.

At the same time, research out of TRM Labs shown that cyberattacks associated with the DPRK had caused “ten times” as much damage as hacks unrelated to North Korea. The North Korean government has amassed a loss of more than $3 billion in crypto since 2017.

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