A record $3.8 billion worth of cryptocurrencies was stolen from various services last year, with many of those thefts being conducted by hackers linked to North Korea, according to a report by the company. of blockchain analysis Chainalysis released on Wednesday (1st).
The rise in cryptocurrency thefts of $3.3 billion (R$16.6 billion) in 2021 came as the overall cryptocurrency market suffered significant declines.
The value of Bitcoin, for example, has dropped over 60% in the last year.
North Korea was a major driver of the rise in thefts, according to the report.
Hackers linked to the country stole about US$1.7 billion (R$8.5 billion) in cryptocurrencies through various hacks in 2022, against US$429 million (R$2.1 billion) in the previous year, Chainalysis said .
The FBI blamed North Korean government-linked hackers for more than $600 million in hacking the Ronin network of video game Axie Infinity in March and a $100 million cryptocurrency company Harmony in June.
“North Korea’s total exports in 2020 amounted to $142 million worth of goods, so it is no exaggeration to say that cryptocurrency hacking is a sizable part of the country’s economy,” Chainalysis noted in the report.
US officials fear that Pyongyang will use money stolen from cryptocurrency hackers to fund its illicit nuclear and ballistic weapons program.
North Korean hackers have stolen the equivalent of billions of dollars in recent years by hacking cryptocurrency exchanges, according to the United Nations.
In addition to hacking cryptocurrency companies, alleged North Koreans posed as other nationalities to apply for jobs at those companies and send money back to Pyongyang, US agencies have publicly warned.
In general, decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols were the top target for hackers, accounting for more than 80% of all cryptocurrencies stolen in the year, according to the report.
These protocols are used to replace traditional financial institutions with software that allows users to directly transact with each other via the blockchain, the digital ledger that underpins cryptocurrencies.
Of the attacks on DeFi systems, 64% were directed at interchain bridging protocols, which allow users to exchange assets between different blockchains. Bridge services typically hold large multi-currency reserves, making them targets for hackers.
While cryptocurrency hacks have continued to rise over the past year, there is reason for hope.
Law enforcement and national security agencies are expanding their abilities to fight cybercriminals, such as the FBI’s recovery of $30 million worth of cryptocurrency stolen in the Axie Infinity hack.
These efforts, combined with other agencies fighting money laundering techniques, “mean these hacks will get harder and less fruitful with each passing year,” according to Chainalysis.
Source: CNN Brasil
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