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UN to Publish the Investigation Details on $3 Billion North Korean Cyber Heists Targeting Crypto Firms

UN prepares to uncover DPRK's massive crypto cyberattacks

The United Nations is about to reveal comprehensive details surrounding its inquiry into a series of cyberattacks, attributed to hacking groups connected with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), targeting cryptocurrency firms. These covert operations, spanning over six years, have reportedly funneled approximately $3 billion into the coffers of the DPRK, allegedly funding its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) development programs. 

An upcoming report, expected to be released between late February and early March, draws on investigations led by an independent sanctions committee, according to insights from unpublished UN documents. These revelations come amidst growing concerns over the security of digital assets and the implications for global financial stability.

The scale of DPRK's cyber operations and international response

Between 2017 and 2023, DPRK-affiliated hacking groups have been implicated in targeting 58 cryptocurrency-related companies, orchestrating thefts that cumulatively approach the $3 billion mark. This substantial figure is not just a testament to the scale of the operations but also highlights the sophisticated strategies employed by these groups to support DPRK's WMD ambitions. 

"The panel is investigating 58 suspected DPRK cyberattacks on cryptocurrency-related companies between 2017 and 2023, valued at approximately $3 billion, which reportedly help fund DPRK’s WMD development," 

Reveals the forthcoming UN report.

In the previous year alone, Chainalysis estimates that these groups absconded with over $1 billion from 20 distinct hacks, marking a notable decrease from the $1.7 billion recorded in 2022 across 15 incidents. Despite the dip, the blockchain intelligence firm TRM Labs forecasts a grim outlook for 2024, expecting even more sophisticated cyberattacks that could outpace current cybersecurity measures and international efforts to curtail such financial crimes. 

Concurrently, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime signals a growing misuse of cryptocurrencies in illicit economies across East and Southeast Asia, underscoring the urgent need for enhanced regulatory oversight and international cooperation.