Crypto stolen: from exchanges to North Korean missiles

Bitcoin security

The volume of attacks from North Korea and aimed at cryptocurrency exchanges grew sharply last year.


In 2021, at least seven attacks were launched by crackers located in North Korea and targeted at the platforms that manage the trading of cryptocurrencies. This is what emerges from a new report shared by Chainalysis. The shares allowed cybercriminals to steal nearly $ 400 million in funds, but the estimate could be on the downside.

North Korea: Cryptocurrency thefts on the rise

Victims of theft are exchanged. According to the reconstruction, what was stolen would mostly end up inside wallets linked (albeit indirectly) to the central government, through which the development of war programs can then be financed. Pyongyang’s initiatives relating to the launch of missiles are in recent days at the center of a heated debate regarding new sanctions imposed by the United States and the threat of a strong reaction from the army in the service of Kim Jong-un. From 2020 to 2021, the number of attacks originating from North Korea rose from four to seven, with the value subtracted during these actions growing by 40%. Once North Korea gains custody of the funds, a careful laundering process begins to clear the traces and then cash out. With regard to the type of assets involved, the graph shown below shows how the volumes have been changing over time, from 2017 onwards: less and less Bitcoin (20%) and more and more Ethereum (58%), the altcoin.

To deal with the attacks would be the group known as Lazarus (about which we have also written several times on these pages) believed to be close to North Korean intelligence or its affiliates. Staying on the subject, another statistic shared only a few months ago by the United States refers to a total of 1.7 billion dollars embezzled with three attacks perpetrated by North Korean authors in 2017, 2018 and 2020 respectively. also the YouBit exchange, based in neighboring South Korea, which following the action was forced to close its doors.