A recent report from TRM Labs has revealed that online hackers hailing from North Korea have so far this year looted almost $200 million in crypto assets. In another report, the firm further pointed out that the $200 million is a fraction of the total $2 billion worth of crypto assets that the hackers have stolen in the last five years.
According to the report, TRM Labs, a crypto intelligence company, stated that even though we are still in the 3rd quarter of the year, cybercriminals from North Korea have managed to steal away more than $200 million in crypto so far this year. This number represents about 20% of the total funds lost through crypto assets theft this year.
Although this year has been significantly bountiful for crypto criminals, the analytic firm pointed out that it has not been as fruitful for them as in 2022, when hackers are responsible for about $800 million worth of digital assets stolen across the cryptocurrency industry, which the attack on Ronin DeFi bridge in March 2022 accounted for about $625 million of the total amount.
According to a spokesperson for TRM Labs, hackers from N. Korea launder stolen money through myriad techniques like chain mixers and hoppers and then liquidates their lots of exchanges with lenient AML/KYC protocols. After the sanction of Tornado Cash mixer in 2022, N. Korean hackers have reportedly turned to Sinbad mixer for their hideous activities.
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TRM Aims To Cut Down Criminal Activities In The Crypto Space
In June, TRM Labs reports revealed that hackers attacked Atomic Wallet and stole about $100 million in significant crypto assets, including Bitcoin and Ethereum. In addition, the report stated that stolen ETH were stored together with wrapped BTC and wrapped ETH in addresses under their control. Afterward, they swapped these assets for BTC and then sent them to addresses on mixers to conceal their tracks.
TRM Labs is a group specially formed to track down cybercriminals, it was launched in 2018 and consists of former INTERPOL officers, the FBI, the National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom, the Federal Police of Australia, the United States Secret Service, and the IRS Criminal Investigation agents.
The particular group reported in May that the rate of hacks has slightly declined in the 2023 Q1, compared with previous periods, attributing the significant reduction to the sanction placed on Tornado Cash in August last year by the United Treasury Department because criminals often use the platform to obfuscate investigators, thereby helping them get away with stolen money, indirectly.
Furthermore, in its report, TRM Labs lays emphasis on the priority of a robust cybersecurity system, pointing out the potential of hardware security devices for managing cryptographic keys, securing keys and passcodes offline, and limiting transactions to addresses of verified recipients.
N. Korean Bad Actors Stole $2 Billion In Crypto In 5 Years
The spokesperson highlighted that one of the uniqueness of blockchain technology is that it allows everyone to be their own bank. However, the freedom it offers places a massive responsibility on their shoulders, bestowing them the role of protecting their digital assets.
Meanwhile, in another report by TRM Labs, the North Korean hackers are also held responsible for a whopping $2 billion in digital assets stolen across different platforms for five years. Furthermore, the analytic team revealed that the hackers arrived at the mammoth loot with 30 various hacks in the crypto space.
In addition, the report pointed out that a significant number of the hacks emanating from the country primarily target decentralized finance projects with multiple-chain bridges. Also, TRM Labs suggested in its report that the hackers have seemingly improved their hacking skills over time as they are now maneuvering upgraded security systems to launder funds.
Furthermore, the team’s spokesperson highlighted that recent exploits from N. Korean hackers revealed that they now use highly sophisticated, multiple-phase money laundering procedures in order to bypass stringent OFAC bans, regulators traps, and enhanced tracking systems integrated into crypto exchanges.