North Korean Crypto Cyberattacks Spike, Yet Fund Theft Dropped by 40%: Report
North Korean-linked hacks of crypto platforms rose in 2023 though funds stolen dropped around 40%, as per a Chainalysis report.
The number of North Korean-linked hackers including Kimsuky and Lazarus Group, attacking cryptocurrency platforms reached a record high in the year 2023, according to a report from blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis.
The same report highlights that despite a rise in attacks, the actual amount of funds stolen dropped around 40%. In over 20 hacks throughout the year, cybercriminals siphoned slightly over $1 billion worth of cryptocurrency compared to $1.7 billion stolen in 2022.
According to the report, the decline in funds signals a broader trend observed in the cryptocurrency security landscape, particularly within decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols. Amidst an overall decrease in DeFi activity, the total amount stolen from these protocols saw a 64% decrease, from $3.1 billion in 2022 to $1.1 billion in 2023.
This downward trajectory in DeFi-related theft can be attributed to enhanced security practices adopted by DeFi applications, coupled with guidance from industry giants such as Microsoft and Alphabet’s Google to strengthen networks against malicious intrusions.
“There have been some positive aspects that have started to slow their success in making off with hundreds of millions of dollars in one attack,” said Erin Plante, vice president of investigations at Chainalysis. “But the threat’s not going away by any means.”
In recent years, DeFi protocols have become a prime target for hackers as their source code is readily available online and cyberattackers find it easier to identify and exploit vulnerabilities within these protocols.
Need for Enhanced Monitoring Amid DPRK Hacker Activity
Phishing and social engineering emerged as the most preferred way of attack for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) linked hackers in 2023. This highlights the critical need for employee education and awareness within organizations. Plante stresses the importance of cybersecurity strategies and making employees up to date with technical defenses against cyber threats.
“They look at what’s changing, what’s evolving, and how they can use that malicious intent,” said Joe Dobson, principal analyst at the cybersecurity firm Mandiant. “Whatever the advancement is, they’re going to find a way to take advantage of it.”
There is a need to enhance network monitoring and security protocols to combat the threat posed by North Korean-linked hacking groups. Given hackers’ tendency to linger within networks, vulnerable platforms must prioritize implementing systems for monitoring on-chain activities and decreasing dependence on centralized products and services.
Despite the decline in illicit gains, the resilience and adaptability demonstrated by North Korean-linked hacking groups underscore the persistent threat they pose to the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
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