In 2023, North Korea increased cryptocurrency theft

In 2023, $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrencies were stolen, compared to $3.7 billion a year earlier. However, North Korean pirates are stepping up their attacks.

2023, which saw the price of Bitcoin explode, was also a quieter year in terms of cryptocurrency theft. In fact, $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency was stolen globally, compared to $3.7 billion in 2022, a 54.3% drop, the latest report from Chainalysis points out.

This trend is explained by the drastic decrease of hacks in decentralized finance (DeFi). Indeed, hackers stole “only” $1.1 billion from DeFi protocols, compared to $3.1 billion last year. If certain blockchains remain a target for hackers, such as Ethereum and Solana, developers who were primarily concerned with the growth of related protocols are now increasingly focusing on their security.

We remind you that DeFi is an open financial system accessible to any user that enables some traditional financial operations such as loans. Decentralized platforms (also called DEXs for “decentralized exchanges”) enable peer-to-peer crypto-transactions without going through a trusted third party.

DeFi and crypto platforms

While the general trend is downward, some hackers continue to mine cryptocurrencies. North Korean hackers, whether the Kimsuks or the Lazarus Group, stole more than $1 billion worth of cryptocurrencies in 2023 (compared to $1.7 billion a year earlier), and attacks were more frequent: 20 thefts in 2023 versus 15 in 2022.

Hackers weren’t just targeting DeFi. “We estimate that hackers linked to North Korea stole approximately $429 million from DeFi platforms in 2023, and also targeted centralized services ($150 million stolen), cryptocurrency exchanges ($331 million), and wallet providers ($127 million), ” concludes the report.

Leave a Comment