South Korea’s spy agency announced yesterday that North Korean hackers in the past five years $1.2 billion in cryptocurrency and other digital assets have been stolen from targets around the world.
The National Intelligence Service reported that more than half of the assets, about $626 million, were stolen in 2022 alone. More than $78 million of stolen assets this year came from targets based in South Korea. The spy agency expects North Korea to increase its cyber attacks on South Korea in 2023. Their main goal will be to steal advanced technologies related to nuclear power plants and chips and defense industries.
The National Intelligence Service said: North Korea’s goals in the third year of its 5-year development plan, i.e. 2023, are expected to be aimed at stealing key technologies and gathering diplomatic and security information to achieve political goals.
Additionally, North Korea will likely continue to steal cryptocurrency. The National Intelligence Service explained that North Korean hackers are among the best in the world at stealing digital currencies and digital assets. In fact, the FBI believes that North Korea is responsible for stealing approximately $625 million from the Axie Infinity platform last March. The Axie Infinity heist is considered the biggest crypto heist in history.
Digital thieves have honed their skills since the United Nations tightened economic sanctions in 2017, banning exports of North Korean goods including coal, textiles and seafood in response to the country’s nuclear weapons and missile tests.
UN sanctions made North Korea focus more on cyber crimes. According to the report of American and international experts, this country uses a third of the stolen funds to finance its missile program. In fact, North Korea is known as one of the most important cyber threats in the world.
As of November this year, North Korea has conducted 34 weapons tests, including about 88 ballistic and cruise missiles. In November, the country test-fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles. Experts believe that these missiles can attack anywhere in the United States.
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