Hackers from North Korea Stole $400 Million Crypto in 2021

January 31, 2022

According to the report published by Chainalysis, hackers from North Korea stole cryptocurrencies worth $400 million in 2021. As the company notes, the amount increased by $100 million compared to 2020 and in total, North Korean hackers have already stolen crypto valued at approximately $1.5 billion.

Chainalysis also said that there could be even more amounts of money stolen by hackers in North Korea but not everything is registered and able to be detected. 

North Korea is a country that is massively sanctioned by different countries. The lack of financial alternatives in the Asian state prompts people to get more creative and Kim Jong-un is the one standing behind all these ideas.

The hackers who stole crypto from other customers work specifically for the government. The funds that they obtain mainly go for funding basic services, the development of new weapons, and providing food.

Eric Plante, director of investigations of Chainalysis, notes that 2021 could be a pivotal year for North Korean hackers. Also, the main reason why hackers are actively stealing different cryptocurrencies is the massive spike of digital coins.

The stolen amount is calculated by the daily exchange rate of each cryptocurrency on the day of the theft. The stolen amount is still lower than in 2018 when hackers from North Korea stole a record of $522 million. Mainly they steal cryptocurrencies with the help of foreign citizens.

The amount becomes even more impressive when you think about the value of cryptocurrencies back in 2018. Since then numerous cryptocurrencies have appeared and they have become more accessible and their price increased too. While hackers initially were targeting Bitcoin, they have changed the priority and are now orienting towards Ethereum and minor cryptocurrencies. Based on a separate report, DeFi has also been affected by North Korean hackers.

Plante also added that new exchanges and platforms emerge frequently. They are easy targets for hackers because trading is in Ether and ERC-20 tokens. Criminals can easily penetrate into these systems and steal money.

While hackers stole money from different exchanges, they were also showing patience and strategy. Rather than immediately cashing out the money, they waited longer. Some cryptocurrencies have been withdrawn years earlier, which shows that they are also analyzing the market and waiting for the best moment.