According to an undisclosed White House official, North Korea has funded approximately half of its missile tests through crypto theft and cyberattacks.
A recent Chainalysis report suggested that North Korean hackers embezzled $1.7 billion of digital assets in 2022. Arguably the most notorious local hacking collective – the Lazarus Group – stood behind numerous exploits last year, with the $625 million breach on Ronin Network being the most famous one.
North Korean Hackers Remain a Threat
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is on its way to becoming a military giant over the past years and is one of the few countries globally with nuclear weapons. Its government, led by Kim Jong Un, also takes every opportunity to upgrade its weapons by carrying out missile programs and various tests.
A White House official recently disclosed that stolen cryptocurrencies or cyberattacks fund half of those war efforts. Anne Neuberger – Deputy National Security Adviser for cyber and emerging technology – said Biden’s cabinet is “putting a lot of time and thought” and is trying to understand how “a country like [North Korea] is so darn creative in this space.”
She also asserted that US intelligence agencies are trying to identify the bad actors and trace the drained assets.
The United Nations (UN) also claimed that the totalitarian nation financed its missile programs and nuclear experiments with crypto theft.
Despite all the accusations and threats from the Western world, North Korea remains focused on war-related efforts. The country’s authorities stated a month ago that they tested the “most powerful” missile to date. Experts warned that the new weapon will be able to strike other nations, including the US, quicker and with a more devastating impact.
Kim Jong Un, who supervised the test, said the experiment would make rivals “suffer from extreme fear and anxiety.”
Leaving a Mark Last Year
Stealing cryptocurrencies via sophisticated hacks is a signature move adopted by North Korean cybercriminals. The blockchain data platform – Chainalisys – estimated that such wrongdoers drained $1.7 billion worth of digital assets via several attacks in 2022.
The Lazarus Group – a notorious hacking group supposedly tied to the local government – was responsible for some of the biggest exploits last year. For example, the FBI claimed the organization stood behind the massive $625 million Ronin Network attack.
The compliance platform MistTrack maintained earlier this year that the Lazarus Group stole $100 million from the cryptocurrency protocol Harmony. Prior to that, Elliptic Enterprise suggested the same.
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