North Korean Hackers Behind 33% of Crypto Hacks in 2023: Report


The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has been linked to gangs that stole about 33% of all crypto hacks in 2023. TRM Labs, a blockchain intelligence company revealed in a recent report.

As uncovered by TRM Labs, it is possible that North Korean hackers stole up to $700 million in Bitcoin this year, of which $600 million was verified by their investigation. This suggests a spike in DPRK hacking attacks involving digital assets, increasing the total amount taken since 2017 to almost $3 billion. 

North Korean Crypto Hacks Circumvents Law Enforcement Bodies

The report highlights the ongoing evolution of North Korean money laundering hacking techniques to elude international law enforcement forces. According to the research, customers’ private keys or seed phrases are frequently compromised by hackers, who subsequently transfer money to wallets under DPRK control and exchange it for Tron (TRX) or Tether (USDT).

TRM Labs stresses the necessity for ongoing vigilance and innovation from businesses and governments to counter North Korea’s hacking capabilities. Despite strides in cybersecurity and increased international collaboration, the report anticipates further disruption from the DPRK in 2024.

TRM Labs stresses that in order to combat North Korea’s cyber skills, companies, and governments must continue to be vigilant and innovative. The analysis predicts more disruption from the DPRK in 2024, despite advancements in cybersecurity and increasing international cooperation.

United States Treasury Department Opts for Sanction

The US Treasury Department has responded to these cyber threats by imposing penalties on people and hacker groups allegedly affiliated with North Korea, such as the Lazarus Group. The DPRK reportedly kept looking at alternative money laundering instruments even after sanctions were placed against cryptocurrency mixers Tornado Cash and Sinbad, according to TRM Labs.

On January 3, CertiK released a report estimating that there were roughly 751 breaches in 2023, which caused over $1.8 billion in cryptocurrency to be lost. The DPRK hackers were held responsible for one-third of these losses. With $686 million lost in 224 instances, the Ethereum network suffered the greatest losses.

U.S. officials have regularly used digital assets as justification for placing sanctions on specific organizations, such as Hamas, the terrorist organization that attacked Israel on October 7. Lawmakers have also targeted cryptocurrency mixers, claiming that the technology is mostly utilized for illegal activities.

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