Hacks Fund Nuclear Arsenal Amid Heavy Sanctions
According to blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis, North Korean state hackers stole $1.7 billion in cryptocurrencies in 2022, a significant increase from their previous record of $429 million in 2021. This amount represents 44% of the total $3.8 billion stolen in cryptocurrencies last year and is the largest year of hacks.
Experts suggest that the country, facing heavy sanctions, is using the funds from cryptocurrency theft to finance its nuclear arsenal. The country’s total exports in 2020 were only $142 million. The hackers often launder money through cryptocurrency mixers to conceal the origin of the funds.
Additionally, some experts warn that North Korea launders stolen cryptocurrency through brokers in China and NFTs. The FBI recently confirmed that the Korean group Lazarus had stolen $100 million from the Horizon blockchain network.
The majority of the thefts, 82%, were committed against decentralized finance protocols (DeFi).