CRYPTO CRASH THREATENS N.KOREA AS THEY POURED RESOURCES INTO STEALING CRYPTO
It comes as North Korea examines a record number of missiles - the Korean Institute for Defense Analysis in Seoul estimates it has cost about $ 620 million so far this year - and is preparing to resume nuclear weapons testing during the economic crisis.
Older, crude North Korean companies hired by New York blockchain analytics company, Chainalysis, which covers 49 hacks stolen from 2017 to 2021, have dropped in value from $ 170 million to $ 170 million. - $ 65 million from the beginning of the year, company. he told Reuters.
One of North Korea's Cryptocurrency deposits in 2021, valued at tens of millions of dollars, lost 80% to 85% of its value in the past few weeks and now costs less than $ 10 million, said Nick Carlsen, an analyst. of TRM Labs, another blockchain analytics company based in the U.S.
A caller at North Korea's embassy in London said he could not comment on the accident because allegations of cryptocurrency hacking were "absolutely false news."
"We have not done anything," said the man, who was about to identify himself as an ambassador. North Korea's Foreign Ministry has called the allegations American propaganda.
The March 615 March attack on the Ronin blockchain project, which powers the popular online game Axie Infinity, was the work of a North Korean criminal gang called the Lazarus Group, U.S. officials said.
Carlsen told Reuters that the linked price movement of various goods involved in the robbery made it difficult to estimate how far North Korea had managed to avoid the theft.
In the event of a similar attack today, the stolen Ether currency will cost more than $ 230 million, but North Korea changed almost all of that with Bitcoin, which has had various price movements, he said.
"Needless to say, the people of North Korea have lost a significant amount, on paper," Carlsen said. "But even with depressed prices, this is still a huge burden."
The United States says Lazarus is under the control of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, North Korea's main intelligence agency. He is accused of involvement in ransomware "WannaCry" attacks, hacking international banks and customer accounts, and cyber attacks in 2014 on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Analysts are reluctant to provide details about what types of crypto currencies North Korea holds, which could provide investigative mechanisms. Chainalysis said Ether, a common cryptocurrency connected to the open source blockchain source Ethereum, was 58%, or about $ 230 million, out of the $ 400 million stolen in 2021.
Chainalysis and TRM Labs use publicly available blockchain data to track activity and identify potential crimes. Such activity is cited by sanctions monitors, and according to public contract records, both companies work with US government agencies, including the IRS, the FBI and the DEA.
North Korea is under international sanctions because of its nuclear program, which gives it limited access to international trade or other sources of revenue and makes crypto heists attractive, investigators say.
'BASICS' in the NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Although cryptocurrencies are estimated to be only a small part of North Korea's finances, Eric Penton-Voak, co-ordinator of the UN sanctions-monitoring panel, said at an April event in Washington, D.C., that cyberbullying had turned "completely. fundamentally "Pyongyang's ability to avoid sanctions and raise money through its nuclear programs and missiles.
In 2019, sanctions officials reported that North Korea had generated an estimated $ 2 million in its programs to destroy weapons using cyberattacks.
Another estimate from the Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons states that North Korea spends about $ 640 million a year on its nuclear arsenal. Total domestic production was estimated at 2020 to about $ 27.4 billion, according to South Korea's central bank.
Pyongyang's official sources of revenue are far more limited than ever before under the self-imposed closure to combat COVID-19. China - its largest trading partner - in 2021 claimed to have imported slightly more than $ 58 million from North Korea, amid the lowest level of legal trade between the two countries for decades. Official numbers do not include smuggling.
North Korea is already receiving a small portion of what it steals because it has to use traders who are willing to exchange or buy private currency without question, says Aaron Arnold of the RUSI Track-tank in London. A February report by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) estimates that in some cases, North Korea receives only one-third of the stolen money.
After acquiring cryptocurrency by robbery, North Korea sometimes converts it to Bitcoin, then acquires traders who will buy it at a discount to get the money, which is usually held abroad.
"Like selling a stolen Van Gogh, you will not get the right market value," Arnold said.
Translated into MONEY
A CNAS report found that North Korean hijackers show only "moderate" concern by concealing their role, compared to many other attackers. That allows investigators to sometimes follow digital trends and attacks on North Korea, though it is rarely timely to recover stolen funds.
According to Chainalysis, North Korea has turned to sophisticated ways to steal stolen cryptocurrency, increasing its use of software tools that integrate and resolve cryptocurrencies on thousands of electronic addresses - the designer of digital archives.
The content of the given address is often viewed in public, allowing firms such as Chainalysis or TRM to monitor any North Korean-related investigations.
The attackers tricked people into accessing or robbing security to withdraw digital funds from online wallets and forwarded to North Korean controlled addresses, Chainalysis said in a report this year.