Crypto security and intelligence firm Chainalysis reported that more than $1.7bn worth of cryptocurrency was stolen by North Korean hackers in 2022.
This number is a worrying increase on the $429m stolen in 2021 by the same cohort.
The wave of crypto crime emanating from North Korea is linked to stinging sanctions that have battered its economy continuously, offering it very few opportunities to conduct business.
“For context, North Korea's total exports in 2020 totaled $142m worth of goods, so it isn't a stretch to say that cryptocurrency hacking is a sizable chunk of the nation's economy”, Chainalysis’ latest report said.
This comes as the US Federal Bureau of Investigation has accused Lazarus Group, a North Korean hacking organization, of stealing $100m from the blockchain network Horizon bridge in 2022.
Hackers have been targeting decentralized finance (defi), a technology designed to empower consumers and make financial institutions more accountable and transparent.
However, the rapid advance of the technology, notes Chainalysis, makes it vulnerable to hacking attacks due to overcomplicated code written too quickly for companies to protect themselves from hackers.
It's this angle that hackers, and those from North Korea in particular, have been using. In fact, 82% of all stolen cryptocurrencies in 2022 came from defi protocols that were left vulnerable in some way.
While defi has potential, it desperately needs to optimize the way it safeguards against hackers and protects consumers funds.
In the meantime, Chainalysis has been busy tracking other suspicious activities in the crypto world, offering breaking insight into suspicious operations and helping raise awareness about general security threats the industry faces.
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