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UN Expert Panel Investigate $3B Worth North Korean Crypto Cyberattacks: Report

An independent United Nations jury of sanctions monitors is conducting a probe into North Korea’s involvement in $3 billion worth cyberattacks on crypto firms.

According to an unpublished UN report reviewed by Reuters, the monitors accused the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) for flouting Security Council sanctions.

They are investigating several suspected cyberattacks worth $3 billion on crypto firms, which DPRK used to develop nuclear weapons program.

“The panel is investigating 58 suspected DPRK cyberattacks on cryptocurrency-related companies between 2017 and 2023, valued at approximately $3 billion, which reportedly help fund DPRK’s WMD development.”

North Korean Hackers Stole Millions in Crypto

Per a recent report by TRM Labs, North Korea-linked hackers stole $200 million worth cryptos from January to Aug. 2023. This accounted for over 20% of all stolen crypto last year, the blockchain intelligent firm added.

Further, this has resulted in funding the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The TRM report sees the move as North Korea’s pivot from “traditional revenue-generating activities.”

Nick Carlsen, intelligence analyst at TRM Labs stressed that DPRK is looking for every dollar they can. “And this is just obviously a much more efficient way for North Korea to make money.”

The UN has slapped DPRK with multiple sanctions since the country’s first nuclear test in 2006. The sanctions include ban on financial services, minerals and metals, limiting North Korea’s access to sources of funding.

Additionally, blockchain analytics company Chainalysis’ data revealed that 2022 was the biggest year ever for crypto hacking.

A whopping $3.8 billion was stolen from crypto businesses, primarily by North Korea-linked attackers, said Chainalysis. Another research early this year noted that cyber-espionage groups are using various tactics to acquire large amounts of crypto assets.

Reuters noted that the UN report will be released later this month or by early next month, according to diplomats. The report noted that the panel investigated on several North Korean nationals that are working overseas.

“They also said North Korea continues to access the international financial system and engage in illicit financial operations,” which are against the UN Security Council resolutions, it added.

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