North Korean Hackers Have Stolen $1.2 Billion in Crypto Funds Since 2017, Says South Korea

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) has reported that North Korean hackers have stolen an estimated $1.2 billion (1.5 trillion won) in cryptocurrency and other digital assets over the past five years.

North Korean Hackers Have Stolen $1.2 Billion in Crypto Funds Since 2017, Says South Korea

North Korea Has Stolen $1.2 Billion in Crypto

According to a Thursday report from South Korea’s main spy agency, hackers working with the North Korean governments have stolen $1.2 billion worth of crypto, with $625 million (800 billion won) looted via hacks in 2022 alone. 

The South Korean cybersecurity experts report that an estimated $78 million (100 billion won) had been stolen from South Korean entities by North Korea since 2017. They note that the frequency of hacks from North Korea has increased over the last year.

The North Korea-linked Lazarus Group has been credited with the $625 million Ronin bridge hack, the $100 million Harmony network hack, and several other attacks on cryptocurrency funds.

The Reason Behind the Growing Threat of North Korea

The NIS explains that North Korea has increased its intensity of cybercrimes to cope with the harsh UN sanction (ban on imports and return of North Korean overseas workers), support its fragile economy, and fund the Kim Jong-un-led nuclear programs.

Crypto hacks not only take a toll on the projects but on the entire industry. With most hacks targeted at decentralized finance projects, the usage and total value locked (TVL) in the sector have taken a major hit, dropping from over $180 billion to $39.7 billion.

On the Flipside

  • While the U.S., South Korea, and Japan recently agreed to ramp up efforts to curb the growing threat from North Korea, the NIS suggests that there will be more attacks from the country in 2023.

Why You Should Care

The report shows how much the crypto industry has been exploited by hacks, and if it can be made more secure with help of community, developers and crypto firms, especially in DeFi.