North Korean hackers mooched off at least  $400 million (Rs 40 crores approx.) in cryptocurrencies through cyber attacks in 2021, according to a new data from Blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis. According to the report, North Korea was one of most successful years on record for cyber-criminals in the closed east Asian state.

The attack was planned by North Korean hackers dubbed as ‘Lazarus Group’ , which is led by Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) primary intelligence agency, claims the report.

Further, the report stated that attacks in 2021 from North Korea (DPRK) primarily targeted “investment firms and centralized exchanges, and made use of phishing lures, code exploits, malware, and advanced social engineering” to maliciously acquire the funds. Once North Korea gained custody of the funds, they began a careful laundering process to cover up and cash out.

Some of the most successful hacks from the Lazarus Group includes attacks on KuCoin and an other unnamed cryptocurrency exchange, each netted more than $250 million alone. And according to the UN security council, the revenue generated from these hacks goes to support North Korea’s WMD and ballistic missile programs.

Meanwhile, North Korea has routinely denied being involved in hack attacks attributed to them. “From 2020 to 2021, the number of North Korean-linked hacks jumped from four to seven, and the value extracted from these hacks grew by 40 per cent,” Chainalysis added

Additionally, Chainalysis in its recent report revealed that scammers stole over $14 billion worth of cryptocurrency from victims in 2021 —up by 79 per cent from $7.8 billion in 2020. As of early 2022, Chainalysis said illicit address already hold over $10 billion worth of cryptocurrencies, with the majority of this held by wallets associated with cryptocurrency theft.

It should be noted that the rise in decentralized finance (DeFi) which facilitates crypto-denominated lending outside traditional banking, has been a big factor in the increase in stolen funds and scams.

In another report in December, Chainalysis revealed that at least 36 per cent of the victims lost over $2.8 billion (Rs 280 crores approx.) to ‘rug pull’ cases. A rug pull is a malicious maneuver in the cryptocurrency industry where crypto developers abandon a project and run away with investors’ funds. In total, crypto scams rose by 81 percent this year from 2020 led by rug pulls, the company said in a blog post.

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