The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s threat actors are increasingly targeting the cryptocurrency sector as a major means of revenue generation since at least 2017 to circumvent sanctions imposed against the country.
This disclosure comes as the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions against Sinbad, a virtual currency mixer used by the North Korea-linked Lazarus Group to launder ill-gotten proceeds.
The actors from the country are estimated to have stolen $3 billion worth of crypto assets over the past six years, with about $1.7 billion plundered in 2022 alone. The majority of these stolen assets are used to directly fund the hermit kingdom’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programs.
Additionally, the group has been adeptly employing various social engineering and phishing tactics to target cryptocurrency exchanges, distribute malware, and steal assets.
Given the lack of strong regulations and investments in cybersecurity for cryptocurrency firms, it is expected that North Korea will continue to target the cryptocurrency industry in the near term.