North Korean Hackers Have Stolen Crypto Worth $200 Million This Year

North Korean Hackers Have Stolen Crypto Worth $200 Million This Year

On Friday, TRM Labs, a blockchain intelligence firm, released a report that shed light on the activities of cybercriminals in the crypto market so far this year.

Even though 2023 is not over as yet, North Korean hackers have managed to steal about $200 million worth of cryptocurrency so far. This makes it about 20% of the total crypto that has been stolen this year.

In the last five years, cybercriminals have managed to steal a whopping $2 billion from the crypto market.

The report

2023 is undoubtedly proving to be yet another lucrative year for hackers, but TRM Labs said that the most successful year for cybercriminals to date was the previous year.

The total amount of crypto that was stolen last year stood at $800 million and hackers were able to achieve this because they targeted decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols.

A total of three major attacks took place on cross-chain bridges, which included a staggering $625 million that was stolen in March last year from the Ronin Bridge.

A spokesperson for TRM Labs said that a number of techniques are used by hackers linked to North Korea for laundering funds, including mixers and chain hoppers.

The spokesperson said that these cybercriminals then cash out their loot quickly via exchanges that have lax AML/KYC controls.

The attacks

After Tornado Cash, the crypto mixing service was sanctioned last year by OFAC, North Korean hackers have switched to Sinbad as the mixing service for laundering money.

In June, Atomic Wallet had become a target and almost $100 million had been stolen in Ethereum, Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Stellar, XRP, and Tron.

According to TRM Labs, the stolen Ether had been sent to new addresses that were controlled by the criminals. They swapped the stolen wrapped Ether (WETH) for WBTC i.e. wrapped Bitcoin.

It was then exchanged for BTC before being sent to mixing services in order to obfuscate it.

TRM Labs is based in San Francisco and was founded in 2018. It includes former members of the US Secret Service, FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, the National Crime Agency in the UK, the Australian Federal Police, and INTERPOL.

More details

TRM Labs had reported in May that there had been a decline in hacks in the first half of the year. This was attributed to the sanctions that were imposed last August on the Tornado Cash Ethereum mixer.

The US Treasury Department had said at the time that the mixer had been added to the Specially Designated Nationals list because criminals use it for laundering money.

The need and importance of robust cybersecurity has been emphasized by TRM Labs. The spokesperson said that the DeFi community has an advantage in that they can be their own bank.

But, this responsibility also comes with a challenge because they have to safeguard their assets as well and there are several ways to accomplish this.

There are other blockchain investigation companies in the market as well, which include CipherTrace, Eleptic, Nansen, Chainalysis, and Peck Shield.