Hackers with ties to North Korea stole $626 million in virtual assets in 2022

Key Takeaways:

  • In 2022, victims had 1,055 NFTs stolen from them using a crypto wallet affiliated with the North Korean APT Group.
  • The NFTs that were stolen from this wallet were reportedly sold for $360,000.

According to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS), North Korean cybercriminals have stolen virtual assets worth $1.2 billion through cryptocurrency thefts and other cybercrimes over the past five years.

According to a revelation by blockchain security company SlowMist, a wallet address linked to a suspected North Korean APT Group stole more than 1,000 NFTs from phishing victims and earned 300 ETH ($365,000) from their sale.

The term “APT” refers to cybercriminals who infiltrate internet networks and can operate covertly for extended periods of time to steal data. These organisations allegedly have North Korean government sponsorship, and several of them employ phishing among other attack vectors.

The National Intelligence Service of South Korea, a spy organisation, calculated that threat actors with ties to North Korea have stolen almost 1.5 trillion won ($1.2 billion) in cryptocurrencies and other virtual assets over the last five years.

According to the intelligence agency, more than half of the cryptocurrency assets have been taken this year alone, totaling around 800 billion won ($626 million).

Following severe U.N. sanctions, the government of Pyongyang focuses on cryptocurrency hacking to finance its weapons development.

North Korea’s focus on cybercrimes after U.N. economic sanctions were reinforced in 2017 in response to its nuclear and missile tests,” according to South Korea’s primary spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, “is considered to be among the best in the world.” according to the AP agency.

Experts agree that North Korean hackers are now among the finest in the world at stealing digital assets and that the “Hermit Kingdom” is rapidly favouring cryptocurrency hacking and other cyber incursions as a source of much-needed foreign currency to support its faltering economy.

High-profile cyber attacks coming from North Korea are nothing new, and the country has already been listed on the FBI’s “Cyber’s Most Wanted” list since 2021. North Korea has a totally state-controlled internet.

The nation’s hackers are known to be members of extremely risky, state-sponsored Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) groups, which are responsible for some of the most cutting-edge and disastrous cyberattacks, including those that targeted nearby South Korean nuclear research facilities and the significant Axie Infinity hack.

North Korean hackers’ coordinated phishing efforts against owners of NFT are a part of a wider pattern. Cybercrime gangs allegedly supported by Pyongyang have targeted crypto exchanges and other cryptocurrency-related firms. These organizations have been implicated in a number of significant hacking of crypto trading platforms.

Aadrika Sharma
Aadrika Sharma

I enjoy writing and try to learn new things every passing day!

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