North Korea’s Stolen Crypto Stash Tanks After Bitcoin’s $18k Crash
According to a story published by Reuters on Wednesday, North Korea is facing a liquidity crunch as a result of the continuing market-wide sell-off devaluing its hoard of stolen digital assets.
In recent years, the East Asian nation amassed a fortune through sponsoring breaches into cryptocurrency wallets that stole hundreds of millions of dollars. According to estimates, the majority of these crypto-assets were utilised to fuel the country’s war machine and ailing economy.
Between 2017 and 2021, more than 49 heists were carried out using hacking techniques conducted by state-sponsored entities such as Lazarus. Since January 2022, according to crypto on-chain data services company Chainalysis, the value of old loot from these breaches has decreased from $170 million to $65 million. Reuters was also informed by unnamed sources that the value of a second cache from a 2021 theft that was worth tens of millions of dollars had dropped by 80 percent.
In March, the US Treasury Department accused the Lazarus Group, which has ties to the Korean government, for planning and executing the Ronin Bridge breach that resulted in the theft of about $615 million. The attack was one of the greatest in the history of the crypto industry and the largest to harm a defi system. According to on-chain statistics, during the robbery, hackers took 173,600 ETH and 25,5M USDC before turning the majority of it into Bitcoin. If this stash had been stored in Ethereum, it would be worth around $182 million at current rates.
The United States has also implicated Lazarus for some of the most damaging cyber strikes on American territory, including as the 2014 cyber attacks on Sony Pictures Entertainment, major foreign banks, and the notorious “WannaCry” ransomware attacks. In a research published in February, Chainalysis indicated that North Korean hackers stole over $400 million worth of digital assets in 2021 alone.
With the rise of cybercrime in recent years, North Korea has increasingly come under the observation of Western nations. In addition to being governed by a totalitarian dictatorship, the nation has been subjected to a series of crippling sanctions that have placed it under great economic hardship, making crypto-related assaults enticing.