Report: North Korean Hackers Utilize Russian Crypto Exchanges for Money Laundering of Stolen Cryptocurrency

Report: North Korean Hackers Utilize Russian Crypto Exchanges for Money Laundering of Stolen Cryptocurrency

New Alleged Alliance between North Korean and Russian Cybercriminals Revealed

According to cryptocurrency analytics company Chainalysis, there is evidence suggesting that hackers associated with North Korea are increasingly using digital currency exchanges based in Russia to launder illicit digital assets. The release of the report coincides with a summit between Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin, the leaders of the two sanctioned countries, and as U.N. sanctions monitors highlight Pyongyang’s changing strategies in cyberattacks against cryptocurrency and financial exchanges.

Escalation in Collaboration between Cyber Underworlds

Chainalysis provides an example of a recent transfer of $21.9 Million worth of stolen digital currency from Harmony Protocol to a Russian exchange known for processing illicit transactions. The company likewise states that it has evidence showing North Korean entities have been using this platform and other services in Russia to launder money in the previous few years. This signifies an escalation in the partnership between the cyber underworlds of these two nations.

Russia’s Non-Compliance Poses Challenges

The authors of the report note that while mainstream centralized exchanges previously used by DPRK hackers usually cooperate with international efforts, Russia’s digital currency exchanges and law enforcement agencies have a history of non-compliance, making asset recovery significantly more difficult.

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Decrease in Stolen Digital currency but Persistent Threat

Chainalysis data outlines that the value of stolen digital currency associated with North Korean hacking groups has had more than $340.4 Million so far in 2023, compared to $1.65 Billion a year ago. Nonetheless, the analytics firm predicts that these groups will likely steal less digital currency this year compared to 2022 when figures were exceptionally high. Nevertheless, DPRK remains one of the largest active threats in the cybercrime landscape, accounting for 29.7% of digital currency stolen through hacks in 2023.

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Hot Take: North Korea and Russia’s Growing Cybercriminal Collaboration

A recent report by Chainalysis indicates a growing alliance between cybercriminals from North Korea and Russia. The data implies that hackers associated with North Korea are increasingly using Russian digital currency exchanges to launder illicit digital assets. This partnership has escalated significantly, posing challenges for international efforts in asset recovery. Despite the fact that the value of stolen digital currency associated with North Korean hacking groups has dropped compared to a year ago, DPRK remains one of the largest threats in the cybercrime landscape. This revelation outlines the need for continued vigilance and collaborative efforts to combat this persistent threat.

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