North Korea’s $3 Billion Stolen Crypto Used for Weapons of Mass Destruction, Report Reveals

North Korea has reportedly used over $3 billion of stolen cryptocurrency to fund the development of weapons of mass destruction, according to a recent report by the United Nations Security Council. The crypto was stolen over the last seven years and has been funneled into weapons development, raising concerns about the illicit use of digital assets by rogue states.

A new investigation has shed light on how North Korean hackers have been targeting crypto companies and wealthy individuals on social media to carry out their scams. The United Nations has warned that consumers are at a significant risk of falling victim to these cyberattacks, with David Robinson, co-founder of Internet 2.0 and former Australian Army Intelligence Officer, emphasizing the scale of the threat.

Robinson stated in an interview with Sky News, “They’ve stolen $3 billion to date, according to the UN.” The U.N. Security Council sanctions committee has looked into 97 suspected cyberattacks by North Korean hackers on cryptocurrency companies between 2017 and 2024, totaling $3.6 billion in stolen funds. These attacks have targeted crypto platforms, consumers, and high-net-worth individuals who use digital assets for business transactions.

Chainalysis, a blockchain analysis firm, estimated that North Korean hackers stole around $400 million in 2021, with a focus on Ethereum (ETH) holdings. The hackers have also been employing new techniques, such as using a malware variant called “Durian” to target cryptocurrency companies in South Korea. This malware exploited security software used by South Korean crypto firms, highlighting the evolving tactics of cybercriminals.

Furthermore, North Korean hackers have been utilizing social media platforms to create fake profiles of celebrities and professionals to promote fraudulent schemes and phishing links related to cryptocurrencies. They have been circulating malicious links via messages or comments that lead to fake websites mimicking legitimate crypto exchanges, luring unsuspecting victims into their scams.

In a concerning development, there has been an increase in collaboration between North Korean hacking groups and Russia-based crypto exchanges since 2021. This partnership has allowed the hackers to launder stolen cryptocurrency through Russian platforms, bypassing international monitoring efforts aimed at curbing North Korea’s illicit on-chain activities.

The use of stolen cryptocurrency by North Korea to fund weapons development underscores the growing threat posed by cybercrime in the digital asset space. As regulators and law enforcement agencies work to combat these illicit activities, it is crucial for individuals and businesses in the crypto sector to remain vigilant and adopt robust security measures to protect their assets from cyber threats.