Threat actors tied to North Korea stole at least $600 million in cryptocurrency in 2023, a new report has revealed.

Blockchain intelligence company TRM Labs estimates that additional hacks carried out by North Korea in the final days of last year could bring the total to around $700 million.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was responsible for almost a third of all funds stolen in crypto attacks last year, despite a 30 percent reduction from the $850 million haul in 2022.

Since 2017, nearly $3 billion worth of cryptocurrency has been stolen by Pyongyang-linked threat actors because of hacks perpetrated by the DPRK.

“North Korea conducts nearly all of its attacks by compromising private keys and seed phrases, which are critical security elements of digital wallets. Hackers transfer the victims’ digital assets to wallet addresses controlled by North Korean operatives,” the report said.

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“They are then swapped mostly for USDT or Tron and converted to hard currency using high-volume OTC brokers,” it added.

Moreover, the report mentioned that the DPRK’s money laundering methods constantly evolve to evade international law enforcement pressure.

As US sanctions and enforcement actions targeted Tornado Cash and ChipMixer (its previous go-to obfuscation platforms), North Korea pivoted to another mixer it had already begun using, the BTC service Sinbad.

After Sinbad was sanctioned by OFAC in November 2023, North Korea continued exploring other laundering tools.

With nearly $1.5 billion stolen in the last two years alone, North Korea’s hacking prowess necessitates constant vigilance and innovation on the part of businesses and governments, the report suggested.

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