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North Korean hackers turn to Russian exchanges for crypto laundering, says Chainalysis

North Korean hackers turn to Russian exchanges for crypto laundering, says Chainalysis

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TL;DR

  • North Korean hackers use Russian crypto exchanges to launder stolen funds, says Chainalysis.
  • Despite less activity in 2023, North Korean groups stole $340.4 million, making up 30% of crypto thefts.
  • Russian-North Korean collaboration complicates global law enforcement efforts.

North Korean hacking groups have intensified their collaboration with Russian cryptocurrency exchanges known for facilitating illicit financial activities, according to a report by Chainalysis, an on-chain analytics firm. 

Chainalysis disclosed that North Korean hackers recently transferred over $21.9 million in stolen cryptocurrency to a Russian exchange notorious for money laundering. The development marks a significant escalation in the partnership between the cyber underworlds of North Korea and Russia, raising concerns for international authorities.

The numbers speak: A decline but still a threat

While North Korean hacking activities have been less prolific in 2023 compared to the previous year, the numbers are still alarming. According to Chainalysis, North Korean hackers have stolen around $340.4 million in cryptocurrency so far this year, a decline from the over $1.7 billion reported in 2022. 

However, this decline should not be seen as a sign of reduced criminal activity. The high figures from 2022 set an unusually high benchmark, making the decline less significant than it appears. North Korean groups have stolen a total of $3.54 billion in cryptocurrency since 2016, making the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) one of the largest active threats in the cybercrime landscape.

Challenges for global authorities

The partnership between North Korean hackers and Russian exchanges poses a significant challenge for international law enforcement agencies. Russia’s uncooperative stance toward international efforts makes the prospect of recovering stolen funds sent to Russian exchanges particularly grim. This starkly contrasts the types of mainstream centralized exchanges that North Korean hackers have previously relied upon, which typically cooperate with international law enforcement.

The situation is further complicated by a forthcoming United Nations report that warns North Korea is using increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks to fund its nuclear missile programs. These “state-sponsored” hacking groups are targeting cryptocurrency and financial exchanges worldwide, making the issue not just a financial but also a security concern for the global community.

While the cross-border nature of cryptocurrencies can make it easier for rogue nations to collaborate, blockchain technology offers significant investigative advantages for law enforcement agencies. International efforts are intensifying to enhance cooperation among nations in countering crypto-related hacks and broader cybercrime. However, the recent developments involving North Korean hackers and Russian exchanges highlight the urgent need for coordinated global action to tackle this growing threat.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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Damilola Lawrence

Damilola is a crypto enthusiast, content writer, and journalist. When he is not writing, he spends most of his time reading and keeping tabs on exciting projects in the blockchain space. He also studies the ramifications of Web3 and blockchain development to have a stake in the future economy.

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