DPRK Stole an Estimated $1B In Crypto in 2022
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DPRK Stole an Estimated $1B In Crypto in 2022

According to the UN, North Korea more than doubled its crypto theft proceeds between 2021 and 2022.
Neither the author, Tim Fries, nor this website, The Tokenist, provide financial advice. Please consult our website policy prior to making financial decisions.

According to a report from Thursday, April 6th, North Koran hackers stole as much as $1 billion worth of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets in 2022. The UN estimates the number more than doubled compared to the data for 2021 and warns member countries to implement guidelines from the anti-money-laundering Financial Action Task Force.

North Korea Reportedly Stole Up To $1 Billion in Crypto Last Year

According to a recent UN report, North Korean hackers have been stepping up their game and managed to steal more than twice the cryptocurrency than in 2021. DPRK is estimated to have taken between $630 million and $1 billion throughout the year using “sophisticated cybertechniques both to gain access to digital networks involved in cyberfinance and to steal information of potential value”.

The report also notes that the most-sanctioned country in the world has likely been supplying weapons of war to Russia to help in its war in Ukraine and the Hermit Kingdom’s leaders previously expressed his willingness to send soldiers into the warzone. The UN also warned that countries should guidelines from the anti-money-laundering Financial Action Task Force to help put an end to DPRK’s cybercrime activities.

Earlier on Thursday, the US Treasury published a report titled “2023 DeFi Illicit Finance Risk Assessment”. The document takes special note of the money laundering and ransomware attacks present in the decentralized finance ecosystem. It also, in many ways, mirrored the UN report and pointed to the fact that North Korea is among the parties most prolific when it comes to using DeFi for laundering stolen assets.

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The Long History of DPRK Hackers and Digital Assets

North Korea’s rather impressive cybercrime results for 2022 are relatively unsurprising considering that the country has been a thorn in the side of decentralized finance for years. The Hermit Kingdom has been behind a multitude of attacks of all kinds both with the aim of directly stealing assets and acquiring sensitive information using sometimes creative and unconventional methods like opening fake Linkedin profiles to phish.

Perhaps the biggest controversy arising from DPRK’s activities came last summer when the US government sanctioned the cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash over alleged connections to the North Korean Lazarus Group. The move has been contentious as many, most notably the Coin Center, claim that Tornado Cash, being a piece of software and not a centralized entity, cannot be sanctioned under the existing legal framework.

Numerous digital assets companies, both known and obscure, found themselves compromised due to North Korean, and other criminal groups. Last year, Kraken was forced to settle with the US government over the allegation it has been processing transactions used to evade sanctions against countries like the DPRK. More recently, a CFTC complaint accused Binance of enabling money laundering on its exchange.

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Do you think North Korea will double its cybercrime proceeds in 2023 compared to 2022? Let us know in the comments below.