The United Nations (UN) has unveiled that North Korea is under rigorous investigation for a series of cyberattacks aimed at pilfering $3 billion in crypto.
International watchdogs believe that the cyber heists are part of a bigger plan to support the isolated nation’s nuclear and missile programs.
North Korea Conducted 58 Attacks on Crypto Firms
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has reportedly engaged in 58 cyberattacks targeting crypto firms from 2017 to 2023. Consequently, these illicit activities are believed to have funded the nation’s weapons of mass destruction development.
“The panel is investigating 58 suspected DPRK cyberattacks on cryptocurrency-related companies between 2017 and 2023, valued at approximately $3 billion, which reportedly help fund DPRK’s WMD development,” the UN wrote.
North Korea continues to defy international norms with ballistic missile tests, satellite launches, and a new tactical nuclear attack submarine. Its last nuclear test was in 2017. Yet, Pyongyang keeps advancing its nuclear and missile capabilities, which has led to increased attention on its cyber warfare tactics.
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The Lazarus Group, a notorious state-sponsored hacking collective under North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau, is at the forefront of these cyber operations. This group’s activities have targeted defense companies and supply chains. They also face allegations of exchanging infrastructure and tools within the cybercriminal ecosystem.
Recent attacks attributed to the Lazarus Group include a $55 million heist from the CoinEx exchange and a staggering $117 million theft from Poloniex, highlighting the group’s sophisticated and relentless attack strategies.
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The implications of these cyberattacks extend far beyond the immediate financial losses. The stolen cryptocurrency, equivalent to 30% of North Korea’s foreign earnings, has the potential to enhance the regime’s military capabilities significantly.
A National Intelligence Service (NIS) officer from South Korea underscored the gravity of the situation. He stated that the $700 million in crypto stolen in 2022 could fund the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile launches.