North Korean cybercriminals are now suspected to be using untraceable altcoins, to convert stolen funds into cash.
In line with a recent official report by NK news, an unpublished United Nations Panel of Experts report states that North Korea-backed hackers have stolen approximately around $1.5 Bln in cryptocurrencies and they were converting some of that amount into cash.
North Korea & Loosely Regulated Cryptocurrency Exchanges
The hackers deliberately transact using privacy-focused altcoins as they’re hard to trace and track, shifting the stolen assets to loosely regulated cryptocurrency exchanges that have minimal customer identification requirements.
The U.N. experts reportedly state that the North Korean hackers attempt to make their funds untraceable using “mixers” – a complicated service that mixes cryptocurrency funds of various users to preserve privacy and make tracking efforts more harder.
Senior analyst at cybersecurity firm Mandiant Threat Intelligence, Fred Plan, revealed that, “North Korea-sponsored actors have a critical advantage that the majority cybercriminals don’t have: They’re backed by the resources of a nation-state that’s understood to have already got significant capability to maneuver money in other illegal transactions, like weapons sales as well as human trafficking.”
Stealing Cryptocurrencies For Illegal Activities
North Korea is suspected of conducting several virtual heists and stealing funds worth billions of dollars. One among the foremost infamous North Korean cybercriminal groups Lazarus reportedly stole over $571 Mln between 2017 and 2018. As reported earlier in 2018, North Korea-sponsored hacks accounted for over 65% of stolen cryptocurrencies.
Earlier in last year, another United Nations report cited by Reuters also estimated that North Korea had stolen almost $2 Bln in cash and cryptocurrencies via cyberattacks to fund its ongoing nuclear program.