The UN is taking action against North Korea’s alleged cryptocurrency misuse, initiating a probe into hacking groups associated with the nation. These entities are accused of conducting cyberattacks on crypto firms in the last six years, accumulating a substantial $3 billion in stolen funds purportedly intended to fund their weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program.
An independent UN sanction committee is spearheading an inquiry into 58 cyberattacks on crypto-related firms from 2017 to 2023. The approximately $3 billion in stolen funds is believed to be a vital source for financing North Korea’s WMD development, sparking global apprehension about their nuclear and missile initiatives.
Following 2023 reports that North Korean hackers pilfered about $1 billion in cryptocurrency from 20 hacks—a decline from the $1.7 billion taken in 2022—blockchain intelligence agencies are raising alarms over an emerging pattern. They forecast increasingly sophisticated and harmful attacks in 2024, which could lead to even larger financial damages for crypto firms.
TRM Labs, a blockchain intelligence firm, cautions that despite improvements in security protocols by exchanges and enhanced global cooperation to trace and recoup stolen assets, 2024 is expected to witness continued disruptions from the world’s most notorious cyber-thief.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has recently underscored the exploitation of cryptocurrency in the shadow economies of East and Southeast Asia. It reports that unlicensed or illegal casinos and “pig-butchering” romance scams are becoming increasingly prevalent in the Mekong region, amplifying worries over the possible use of crypto for unlawful endeavors.