North Korean hackers stole £ 300 million in cryptocurrency last year

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North Korean hackers stole about £ 300 million cryptocurrency in 2021, making it one of their most lucrative years to date, a new report shows.

Blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis said the Lazarus Group, a notorious state-sponsored cybercrime unit, is likely to account for most of the seven digital attacks, three more than the total in the past 12 months.

The state generated 40 percent more money through hacking last year than in 2020, according to a Chainalysis report.

“Once North Korea acquired custody of the funds, began a diligent laundering process to cover it up and pay it off, ”the report said.

Although the company did not list all the organizations that were targets Pyongyang, found that most investment firms and stock exchanges, including the cryptocurrency trading platform Liquid.com.

Researchers at Chainalysis also discovered 125 million pounds of unwashed digital currency stolen by hackers from 2017 to 2021.

The report says North Korea might keep these funds to buy time while trying to outwit legal agencies.

“No matter how long that reason is [North Korea] is willing to keep these funds, it is enlightening as he proposes a cautious plan rather than a desperate and hasty one, ”Chainalysis added.

The UN has accused Pyongyang of spending its ill-gotten gains on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs as a way to evade sanctions. North Korea has denied involvement in any illegal hacking activities.

In 2019, the UN Security Council said North Korea had earned about £ 1.5 billion in three years through illegal cyber activities.

In one of its most notorious cyber attacks, North Korea allegedly targeted Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014 after the studio released a film showing the assassination of the head of state.

In 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice accused three North Koreans of trying to steal about 1 billion pounds of cash and cryptocurrency.

“The scale of the criminal behavior of North Korean hackers has been extensive and lengthy, and the scale of the crimes they have committed is staggering,” U.S. attorney Tracy Wilkinson said at the time.

The group, which allegedly worked for the National Intelligence Office, is also expected to attack the NHS in 2017 with the “WannaCry 2.0” buyout software.

The agencies contributed to this report

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