Up to 50% of North Korean Missiles Funded With Stolen Crypto: White House
According to a report from Wednesday, May 10th, around half of DPRK’s missile and nuclear programs are funded by stolen cryptocurrency and other forms of cybercrime. A UN report published earlier this year estimated that North Korean hackers stole approximately $1 billion worth of digital assets in 2022.
North Korea Extensively Using Stolen Crypto to Finance Weapons Programs
Speaking at an event hosted by the Special Competitive Studies Project, the deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, Anne Neuberger reportedly stated that the White House estimates half of the North Korean missile with profits from various forms of cybercrime. According to the White House official, the government considers the problem to be of great concern.
The administration is allegedly examining the problem closely and is baffled by how DPRK “is so darn creative in this space”. North Korean hackers have garnered much notoriety within the digital assets industry for high-profile, highly damaging attacks they have undertaken over the years including the largest theft of cryptocurrency to date.
Additionally, DPRK’s hackers, most notably the Lazarus Group, have been increasing their efforts over the years. A recent UN report indicated they have stolen around $1 billion worth of cryptocurrency in 2022—more than twice the $400 million extracted in 2021.
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The Efforts to Curtail DPRK’s Cybercrime Activities
In response to the activities of North Korean cybercriminals, various US and international agencies have been working hard to put a stop to their attacks. For example, South Korean police recently prevented a major attack that sought to compromise dozens of government computers.
The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has been particularly active in its efforts to curtail DPRK attacks. Its efforts have also been met with controversy and a lawsuit last year after it sanctioned the cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash. Late in 2022, however, OFAC responded to the criticism that North Korea laundered digital assets through the mixer and subsequently used them to finance its nuclear program.
More recently, on April 24th, US authorities sanctioned three North Korean nationals for their links to the Lazarus group. Additionally, on the same day, the Department of Justice unsealed two indictments against one of the said individuals—a China-based representative of DPRK’s Foreign Trade Bank.