The United Nations (UN) is cracking down on North Korea’s suspected crypto attacks, launching an investigation into hacking groups linked to the nation.
These groups are accused of orchestrating cyberattacks on cryptocurrency firms over the past six years, amassing a staggering $3 billion in stolen funds to allegedly support their weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program.
This investigation, overseen by an independent UN sanction committee, delves into 58 cyberattacks targeting crypto-related companies between 2017 and 2023.
The stolen funds, estimated at $3 billion, reportedly play a crucial role in financing North Korea’s WMD development, raising international concerns about their nuclear and missile programs.
This move comes after reports in 2023 suggested North Korean hacking groups stole around $1 billion worth of cryptocurrency through 20 hacks.
While this number represents a decrease compared to the $1.7 billion stolen in 2022, blockchain intelligence firms warn of an alarming trend.
They predict even more sophisticated and damaging attacks in 2024, potentially resulting in even greater financial losses for cryptocurrency firms.
“Despite advancements in cybersecurity measures employed by exchanges and increased international collaboration to track and recover stolen funds, 2024 is likely to see further disruption from the world’s most prolific cyber-thief,” warns TRM Labs, a blockchain intelligence firm.
Adding to the concerns, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime recently highlighted the misuse of cryptocurrency in illicit economies emerging in East and Southeast Asia.
Unregulated or illicit casinos and “pig-butchering” romance scams are reportedly flourishing in the Mekong region, raising concerns about the potential misuse of crypto for criminal activities.