Consider all those GPUs that were working hard, dreaming of playing video games and delivering joy, but were instead transported to crypto miners. Some were even snatched from their loving gaming homes and sold on the black market.
However, to generate money, people frequently engage in crypto-mining in addition to harming the environment and the video card. Instead of the owner, it appears to be to make North Korean hackers insanely wealthy, similar to what Norton’s preinstalled crypto miner accomplishes for it.
According to a report from ChainAlysis (thanks, IFL Science), North Korean hackers are thought to have made off with at least USD 400 million in digital assets over the last year, and they’re not going to give any of it back like other hackers.
According to the research, 2021 was a big success for those looking to make a quick buck in the cybercrime world, particularly in North Korea, where the profit from stolen crypto increased by more than 40% over the previous year. Ether was the most commonly stolen cryptocurrency, accounting for approximately 60% of the total. This was followed by Bitcoin, which accounted for around 20% of the total, and the rest appeared to be primarily Ethereum-based.
Surprisingly, they’re not using it to buy any hideous monkey NFTs, considering rats and monkeys have a similar odor. Instead, the cryptocurrency is laundered via different currencies and wallets before being transformed back into a type of Earth money that can be used in normal stores.
Thankfully, cybercriminals make the most of their money by attacking investment firms and centralized exchanges, so smaller targets are less likely to be worth pursuing.
The Lazarus Group, which has ties to the North Korean government, is suspected of being behind the majority of these heists. You may recall that when the James Franko and Seth Rogen comedy The Interview was slated to be released in 2010, there were a lot of backlashes. This was mostly due to the Lazarus Group attempting to have the picture canceled by hacking Sony Pictures Entertainment. It almost sounds ridiculous to say it now, but those are the folks who might be sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars.
Despite all of this money laundering, North Korea still has roughly $170 million in cryptocurrency, according to the report. All of this, according to Chainalysis, testifies to a coordinated attempt by the country to engage in crypto-crime.
“These behaviors, put together, paint a portrait of a nation that supports cryptocurrency-enabled crime on a massive scale. Systematic and sophisticated, North Korea’s government – be it through the Lazarus Group or its other criminal syndicates – has cemented itself as an advanced persistent threat to the cryptocurrency industry in 2021,” Chainalysis said in a blog post.