North Korea allocates 50% of stolen $3 billion to nuclear program


The damage to the crypto industry from the actions of hackers associated with official Pyongyang amounted to $ 3 billion. Half of this amount went to finance the ballistic missile program, writes The Wall Street Journal.

Cybercriminals used various schemes, including social engineering.

One of the victims of the attackers was the game studio Sky Mavis, known for the game Axie Infinity. On March 23, 2022, as a result of an attack on the sidechain, the project lost user crypto assets worth about $625 million.

An engineer working at a startup received an offer via LinkedIn from one of the recruiters to discuss his career prospects. As part of the interview, he was asked to view a document that acted as a “Trojan horse” and allowed hackers to gain access to the company’s systems. As a result of the theft, the project was on the verge of closing.

The incident attracted the attention of the White House.

“This prompted us to focus all our efforts on countering this activity”said Ann Neuberger, Deputy Presidential Adviser for Cyber ​​Security and Emerging Technologies.

About half of Pyongyang’s missile program is funded by proceeds from cyber operations, the official said. Previously, this share did not exceed one third.

For this purpose, according to the US authorities, North Korea has formed a “shadow” army of thousands of IT professionals in countries around the world who can earn up to $300,000 a year.

According to TRM Labs analyst Nick Carlsen, it all started with “pirate attacks” – infecting computers of various departments and organizations with a ransom demand.

Subsequently, the hackers honed their skills and moved on to large-scale and complex operations, such as stealing $81 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh in an attempt to take possession of $1 billion, which was stopped by specialists. FRB New York.

Since 2018, North Korean attackers have focused on the crypto industry.

“From the very beginning, they were the most “advanced” users of digital assets,” Erin Plante, VP of Investigations at Chainalysis, said.

According to Sky Mavis CFO Alexander Larsen, the “arms race” with North Korean hackers has just begun.

Recall, according to the UN, in 2022, North Korean hackers stole a record amount of cryptocurrency and targeted the networks of foreign aerospace and defense companies.

South Korea estimates the damage at $630 million, and cybersecurity experts at more than $1 billion. In turn, Chainalysis analysts talk about about $1.7 billion in cryptocurrencies received as a result of cyber attacks.

The UN has repeatedly warned that the DPRK continues to develop its nuclear programs, and funds received from attacks on bitcoin exchanges become their important source of funding. In 2019, UN sanctions monitors reported that the DPRK received about $2 billion for these purposes over several years.

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