UN says North Korea stole $630m of crypto last year in lowball estimate
The United Nations (UN) revealed in a confidential report that North Korea stole $630 million last year, according a Reuters article.
The United Nations (UN) said in a confidential report that North Korea stole $630 million of crypto last year, according to a Feb. 6 Reuters report.
The UN noted that its estimate is considerably lower than a competing estimate from Chainalysis last week. Chainalysis said that the country stole $1.7 billion of crypto in 2022 — representing slightly less than half of the $3.8 billion that was stolen in total.
The UN suggested that variations in the dollar value of stolen cryptocurrency may be responsible for the difference between the two estimates. Though its own estimate is nearly three times lower than Chainalysis’s estimate, the UN conceded that 2022 was a record-breaking year for North Korean cryptocurrency theft by either account.
Additionally, the UN noted that North Korea targeted foreign aerospace and defense companies and their networks in order to steal information. North Korea was able to extort payments from their possession of that information by using ransomware.
The publicized sections of the report do not explicitly state that those payments were made in cryptocurrency. However, virtually all ransomware relies on Bitcoin payments, meaning that North Korean attackers were almost certainly paid in cryptocurrency.
Outside of ransomware, North Korean groups have been implicated in various crypto incidents including attacks on Harmony Protocol, Ronin Bridge and individual Japanese crypto firms. Furthermore, North Korea’s alleged use of the Tornado Cash coin mixer was one reason the protocol was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury in August 2022.
Long-term reports published by a South Korean agency in December also suggested that North Korean hackers have stolen $1.2 billion since 2017.
The UN report is set to become public in the coming months.