UN report: North Korea stole more crypto in 2022 than ever before

AP Photo/Cha Song Ho
North Korean flags are carried during a celebration of the nation’s 73rd founding anniversary in Pyongyang, North Korea on Sept. 9, 2021.

A new United Nations report says that North Korea set a record for its cryptocurrency crimes last year. 

In a confidential report obtained and published by Reuters on Monday, independent sanctions monitors said that South Korea estimated that North Korean-linked hackers stole virtual assets worth at least $630 million in 2022. One cybersecurity firm estimated that North Korean cybercrime yielded cyber currencies worth more than $1 billion, according to the report. 

The sanctions monitors said groups controlled by the Reconnaissance General Bureau, North Korea’s primary intelligence organization, carried out the majority of the reported cyber attacks, adding that hacking teams under the names of Kimsuky, the Lazarus Group and Andariel were under those groups and tracked by the cybersecurity industry.

“These actors continued illicitly to target victims to generate revenue and solicit information of value to the DPRK including its weapons programmes,” the U.N.’s report said, using an acronym for North Korea’s official name. 

The sanctions monitors also said those groups used malware for various methods such as phishing, noting that one campaign using this method targeted employees in organizations across various countries. 

“Initial contacts with individuals were made via LinkedIn, and once a level of trust with the targets was established, malicious payloads were delivered through continued communications over WhatsApp,” the report added. 

North Korea, which was accused by the monitors of conducting cyber attacks to fund its nuclear and missile programs, has previously denied any allegation of hacking or cyberattacks. 

Diplomats told Reuters that the report, which was submitted to the 15-member North Korea sanctions committee last week, will be released publicly later in February or early March.

—Updated at 11 p.m.

Tags Axie Infinity Cryptocurrencies Cryptocurrency cybersecurity Lazarus Group North Korea United Nations

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