North Korea’s hacking forces are stepping up efforts to expropriate digital assets from Western companies and private investors. If in 2021 they stole cryptocurrencies worth $400 million, then in 2022 it will amount to $626 million. In general, hackers have brought the state suffering from Western sanctions about $1.2 billion over the past 5 years. This is reported by AP News referring to the National Intelligence Service of South Korea.

In the wake of tough UN sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic, North Korea has turned to illicit cyber activity as a major source of much-needed foreign currency to prop up its fragile economy and finance its nuclear program, experts and officials say.

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service has said that North Korea’s ability to steal digital assets is considered one of the best in the world due to the country’s focus on cybercrime and investing a lot of effort in developing this area of the “economy.”

We remind that the UN sanctions, introduced in 2016-17, prohibit the export of key goods of North Korea, such as coal, textiles and seafood. In addition, most UN member states were forced to repatriate North Korean foreign workers, who the state used as modern-day slaves, selling cheap labor to anyone.

The National Intelligence Service expects North Korean hackers to launch more cyberattacks next year to steal advanced South Korean technology and sensitive information about South Korea’s foreign policy and national security.

Earlier this month, senior diplomats from the United States, South Korea and Japan agreed to step up efforts to curb North Korea’s illicit cyber activity.

We will remind you that earlier we wrote how North Korean hackers attacked an American cyber security specialist and how he responded by turning off the Internet for the whole country. In addition, it is known that North Korean hackers try to cheat their way into jobs in Western companies .