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18 Jul 2024

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North Korean Hackers Stole $600M Cryptocurrency in 2023 

North Korean Hackers Stole $600M Cryptocurrency in 2023

In 2023, TRM Labs reveals the staggering $600 million cryptocurrency heist executed by hackers from North Korea

Cryptocurrency theft has emerged as a major concern in the digital world, and North Korean hackers have taken the spotlight with their involvement in a staggering heist. Recent research conducted by TRM Labs sheds light on the alarming activities of these hackers associated with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), revealing that they have stolen at least $600 million in cryptocurrency throughout 2023. This comprehensive blog uncovers their strategies and the implications of their actions on the cryptocurrency landscape.

Despite a 30% decrease from their 2022 earnings of $850 million, the DPRK’s role in almost one-third of all crypto thefts last year is worrisome. Their hacks, estimated to be ten times more damaging than others, have resulted in a cumulative loss of nearly $3 billion in cryptocurrency since 2017.

The DPRK’s modus operandi involves compromising critical security elements such as private keys and seed phrases in digital wallets. Once breached, they swiftly transfer the victims’ assets to addresses under their control, primarily converting them to USDT or Tron before laundering them into hard currency using high-volume OTC brokers.

In response to international law enforcement actions, the DPRK shifted their money laundering platforms from Tornado Cash and ChipMixer to the BTC service Sinbad. Even after Sinbad faced sanctions in November 2023, North Korea persisted in seeking alternative laundering tools, demonstrating their resilience in evading regulatory measures.

The severity of their cyber thefts, with nearly $1.5 billion stolen in the past two years, necessitates continuous vigilance and innovation from both businesses and governments. Despite advancements in cybersecurity and international collaboration, it is anticipated that 2024 will witness further disruptions from these skilled cybercriminals.

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