North Korean Hackers Stole Over $1 Billion Worth of Virtual Assets

by Crypto Drive

According to South Korea’s top spy agency, North Korean hackers have stolen cryptocurrencies and other virtual assets worth roughly 1.5 trillion won ($1.2 billion) in recent years,  that bolster Pyongyang’s foreign exchange reserves.

The South Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS) reportedly disclosed that the hacking spree began around the time that UN sanctions against North Korea were tightened in 2017. The sanctions cut off key exports from the country. North Korean hackers are among the best in the world at stealing digital assets because their country has focused on cybercrime as a key revenue source.

It has been said that about half of the assets have been stolen from the country over a five-year period, with about half of them being stolen this year. The stolen funds have reportedly helped bolster North Korea’s economy and fund its nuclear weapons program amid the Covid-19 pandemic and harsh UN sanctions against the country.

North Korea has used hackers to steal billions of won from South Korea and other countries, according to a report by the National Intelligence Service (NIS). More than 100 billion won, or around 7% of the stolen assets, came from South Korea, according to the report.

The NIS said North Korean and Chinese hackers also are targeting US and South Korean technology secrets in such industries as nuclear power, semiconductors, defense and space. Pyongyang will likely try to hack confidential information on Seoul’s foreign policy and national defense, the agency said in April.

The North Korean government is said to have engaged in cyberattacks on South Korean companies and institutions in an effort to steal technology, nuclear secrets, and foreign policy information. The Washington Post reported last year that the attacks have cost US businesses nearly $1 billion and that some companies have lost their entire batches of products.

Earlier this year, hackers with ties to North Korea’s government stole $620 million worth of Ethereum cryptocurrency from a video gaming company; the FBI claimed that in April. A White House official allegedly said that hacking thefts account for about one-third of the funding for North Korea’s missile program; which the Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry have strongly denied.

The North Korean government stated that the US allegations of cyberattacks and online thefts have been used to tarnish the reputation of its citizens. The false accusations are meant to threaten North Korea’s sovereignty and independence, according to the ministry. In a statement last February, it added that Pyongyang will not allow such acts to go unpunished.

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