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Hackers Prove the Easiest Way to Make a Crypto Fortune Is by Stealing It

A new report reveals that hackers targeting cryptocurrency last year managed to steal a record $3.8 billion in digital coins, with North Korea being the biggest benefactor.

As the South China Morning Post(Opens in a new window) reports, a new report(Opens in a new window) from blockchain analysis company Chainalysis Inc. reveals that 2022 was a record year for cryptocurrency theft. In 2021, $3.3 billion in crypto was stolen, but that increased to $3.8 billion last year.

The majority of that ($3.1 billion) was taken by finding vulnerabilities in bridge services (used to connect different blockchains) that form part of the decentralized finance (DeFi) infrastructure cryptocurrency relies upon.

It seems North Korea has a particular expertise in this sector, with hacking groups linked to the country’s government accounting for $1.7 billion of the total. For context, North Korea’s gross domestic product hovers around the $29 billion mark.

North Korea is well-known for its hacking activities, with $30 million in stolen cryptocurrency being seized from North Korean hacking group Lazarus last September. The US sanctioned Tornda Cash for laundering crypto funds for the country, hackers there were also behind the $100 million Harmony blockchain hack, and several people have been charged for aiding North Korea with cryptocurrency services.

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The good news is, they may not get away with it for much longer. According to Chainalysis:

“While North Korea-linked hackers are undoubtedly sophisticated and represent a significant threat to the cryptocurrency ecosystem, law enforcement and national security agencies’ ability to fight back is growing … we expect more such stories in the coming years, largely due to the transparency of the blockchain. When every transaction is recorded in a public ledger, it means that law enforcement always has a trail to follow, even years after the fact, which is invaluable as investigative techniques improve over time.”

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