According to a Nikkei-sponsored Elliptic research, North Korean hackers have stolen $497 million in crypto from American businesses since 2017.
The Lazarus Group, a notoriously exploitative organization behind multiple DeFi initiatives, is a state-sponsored organization in North Korea. The Elliptic research concentrated on companies whose cryptocurrency transfers were made to wallets linked to this organization.
The United Nations as well as the American government have pointed out repeatedly how countries in Asia fund their missile program by supporting cybercrime. A report from the UN revealed in that 2022, hackers stole more than $1 billion in cryptocurrencies. This is more than double in 2021.
An official of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Eun Young Choi said earlier today that the agency is critically observing DeFi exploiters. This is because of the widespread of hackers backed by North Korea.
In the meantime, analysis from the research further shows that state-sponsored hackers also target countries like Japan, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.
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How the hackers operate
According to the investigation, the hackers obtained their illegal income through ransomware payments and hacking. In some cases, they stole straight from cryptocurrency exchanges or exploited a flaw in cross-chain DeFi projects such as Horizon. They also hacked into businesses’ data and compelled them to pay a ransom in cryptocurrency.
The research also revealed that over $2.3 billion in cryptocurrencies have been stolen by these hackers from businesses all over the world over the last five years. Also, Japan is a key target for these hackers, who stole $721 billion from Japanese corporations, accounting for 30% of their illegal fortune. Vietnam is next, having stolen $540 million and $281 million from Hong Kong.
The focus on Japan and Vietnam crypto exchanges is a result of their poor securities. Finally Elliptic also reported that at least 3 exchanges have been hacked in Japan between 2018 and 2021.