- North Korean hackers intensified using Russian exchanges to launder stolen funds.
- The value of stolen crypto linked to DPRK groups has exceeded $340 million this year.
- Russia’s help for North Korean hackers poses a challenge for global authorities.
According to blockchain security research firm Chainalysis, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)-linked hacking groups are intensifying their utilization of Russia-based crypto exchanges known for laundering illicit digital assets.
Chainalysis noted that the trend coincides with growing concerns from independent sanctions monitors regarding North Korea’s evolving tactics in cyber warfare. It cited that an upcoming United Nations report is set to caution that DPRK is employing increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks to finance its nuclear missile programs.
Additionally, the research firm argued that the “state-sponsored” hacking groups have been targeting crypto and financial exchanges on a global scale.
Furthermore, Chainalysis uncovered that $21.9 million in crypto, stolen from Harmony Protocol, has recently been funneled into a Russian exchange notorious for handling illicit transactions. Moreover, it noted that DPRK entities have been using Russian services, including the cited exchange, for money laundering purposes since 2021.
Chainalysis argued the latest development signifies a significant escalation in the collaboration between the cyber underworlds of North Korea and Russia. The research firm stated that while the revelation underscores a potent alliance between these two nations’ cybercriminal actors, it poses formidable challenges for international authorities.
Also, it highlighted that Russia’s historical reluctance to cooperate with international law enforcement diminishes the prospects of recovering stolen funds sent to Russian exchanges. Moreover, Chainalysis mentioned that mainstream centralized exchanges typically relied upon by North Korean hackers, tend to cooperate. On the other hand, the Russian counterpart exchanges and law agencies have a track record of non-compliance, substantially reducing the likelihood of asset recovery.
According to data backed by research, the value of stolen crypto linked to DPRK groups has exceeded $340.4 million this year, a decrease from the staggering $1.65 billion reported stolen in 2022.