North Korea suspected of $281m crypto heist

The United Nations (UN) has North Korea in its crosshairs after an investigation into the theft of $281m worth of crypto from an exchange last year.

According to reports, the UN uncovered evidence which “strongly suggests” links to North Korea.

While the UN did not name the exchange that fell foul of the theft, analysts believe it to be Seychelles-based KuCoin, which reported stolen bitcoin amounting to the same value after it was hacked in September 2020.

According to UN sources the hack appeared to be linked with a similar incident in October 2020, where $23m was stolen.

Independent sanctions monitors reportedly told the UN: “Preliminary analysis, based on the attack vectors and subsequent efforts to launder the illicit proceeds, strongly suggests links to the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea].”

It is thought that the North Korean regime is hacking exchanges to help fund its nuclear missile programs without detection.

Commentators have said that the regime is likely to be attempting to launder the money through decentralized exchanges to avoid the thefts being detected or linked back to the hackers.

The UN is reported to have stated that: “According to sources familiar with both hacks, the attackers exploited ‘defi’ protocols — i.e., smart contracts that facilitate automated transactions”.

KuCoin has not confirmed that it is the victim of the attack in question, although it has refuted recent claims that users sustained any losses from the September attack.

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Written by Hannah

Hannah is editor of and has almost 15 years experience in journalism, including reporting on law, TV, gambling, crypto and alternative finance. She is particularly interested in the future of money, the transition of gambling from 'vice' industry to mainstream entertainment and the application of blockchain technology to wider society.

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