Crypto thieves from North Korea have stolen $340.4 million so far in 2023. Still, this is a decline of no less than 80% compared to 2022. However, according to blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis, this is not necessarily a reason for optimism. However, despite the decline, the company said it does not necessarily mean that safety has improved.
Crypto theft is decreasing, but the risk remains
The damage from North Korean crypto hacks this year amounts to $340.4 million. A significant amount, but nothing compared to the $1.65 billion worth of cryptocurrencies stolen in 2022. However, according to Chainalysis, this 80% drop sounds better than it could be.
The reason 2022 is so high is because there were some big thefts like the $600 million Axie Infinity hack. The 2023 numbers do not necessarily indicate improved security or reduced criminal activity, Chainalysis says.
“In reality, we are just one major hack away from surpassing the billion mark in stolen funds by 2023.”
Remember, 2022 has been a busy year for hackers in the DPRK, with extremely large-scale thefts like the $600 million Axie Infinity hack. The 2023 numbers do not necessarily indicate improved security or a decrease in criminal activity. We are just one major hack away from crossing the $1 billion threshold in 2023.
– Chain Analysis (@chainalysis) September 14, 2023
In the last 10 days, North Korea’s notorious Lazarus Group has carried out two separate hacks, stealing a total of more than $95 million. These attacks account for about 30% of all cryptocurrencies stolen this year. This shows how quickly things can happen, says Chainalysis.
Crypto platforms are at risk at all times. According to Chainalysis, to protect themselves from such attacks, platforms must train their employees to counter manipulative techniques used by hacker groups. An increase in smart contract audits may also make it more difficult for hackers.
Russian crypto exchanges help Lazarus
North Korean hackers are increasingly relying on certain Russian crypto exchanges to launder stolen assets. They have been using these exchanges since 2021. New data shows that $21.9 million worth of stolen cryptocurrencies were recently sent to a Russian exchange. This cryptocurrency overall comes from the well-known Harmony Bridge hack from last summer Cryptocurrencies worth $100 million were stolen.
The North Korean hackers are a plague in cryptoland. According to a previous United Nations report, the stolen cryptocurrency is being used to finance North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.