Chainalysis believes that a slump in North Korean crypto heists does not mean it’s time to let the guard down.
Blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis reveals that crypto thefts associated with North Korean hacker groups have dropped by 80% compared to last year.
Chainalysis reports that as of September 14th, a total of $340.4 million in cryptocurrency has been stolen by hackers with links to North Korea. This is significantly less than the record $1.65 billion reported for 2022.
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Chainalysis emphasized that the dip in numbers should not be seen as a decrease in criminal activities.
The fact that this year’s numbers are down is not necessarily an indicator of improved security or reduced criminal activity. We must remember that 2022 set a dismally high benchmark. In reality, we are only one large hack away from crossing the billion-dollar threshold of stolen funds for 2023.
Over more than a week, North Korea’s Lazarus Group was connected to two major hacks. One of them is a $40 million crypto casino Stake exploit on September 4th and September 12th CoinEx $55 million hack. These two attacks alone accounted for losses amounting to over $95 million.
Chainalysis noted that such attacks by North Korean groups make up roughly 30% of all cryptocurrency stolen this year.
Chainalysis Vice President of Investigations Erin Plante commented on the matter by stating:
Lazarus continues to be prolific crypto thieves, which is made even more troublesome by the national security threat that DPRK poses.
Plante suggests that cryptocurrency firms could bolster their defenses by training their teams to recognize and counter social engineering tactics, which have been a significant attack vector for these groups. Chainalysis hopes that enhanced audits of smart contracts might add a layer of complexity for these hackers.
North Korean hackers have also utilized US-sanctioned crypto mixers like Tornado Cash and Blender in previous exploits, including the Harmony Bridge hack.
Though there has been a significant reduction in cryptocurrency theft by North Korean-linked hackers this year, experts warn that the decrease does not necessarily imply a safer environment. With billions at risk and national security concerns at hand, both state-level and corporate actions are being taken to mitigate future attacks.