A sharp collapse in cryptocurrency markets wiped out millions of dollars stolen in cryptocurrency by North Korean hackers. The fallout has jeopardized a key source of funding of the country hit by the sanctions and its weapons program. This is reported by Reuters, citing four digital investigators.
According to the US Treasury Department, North Korea has invested resources in stealing cryptocurrencies in recent years. In particular, in March of this year, its hackers stole the largest amount of cryptocurrency in history, worth almost $615 million. In 2021, they also stole $400 million by conducting at least seven successful attacks.
Due to the collapse, the value of funds stolen between 2017 and 2021 dropped from $170 million to $65 million, according to New York-based analytics firm Chainalysis. One cryptocurrency cache which had been worth tens of millions of dollars has lost 80% to 85% of its value in the past few weeks and is now worth less than $10 million.
The sudden drop in cryptocurrencies makes it difficult for Pyongyang to earn money from stolen cryptocurrencies. It may also affect weapons programs that were planned to be financed with cryptocurrency funds.
The collapse comes as North Korea prepares to resume nuclear tests and test a record number of missiles that the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis in Seoul estimates have cost $620 million this year.
The North Korean embassy in London refused to comment on the situation, calling news about the theft of cryptocurrency fake and accusing them of American propaganda.
We remind that, according to the US government, North Korea was behind the Lazarus Group hacking operation. They stole $615 million worth of cryptocurrency during an attack on the Ronin blockchain project that powers the popular online game Axie Infinity. Specialists note that despite North Korea losing a large part of the funds due to the collapse of the cryptocurrency, it still has a large profit from the theft.