North Korean Cyber Heists Net $600 Million in Crypto in 2023

Key Points:

  • North Korean hackers masterminded the theft of $600 million in cryptocurrencies in 2023, marking a significant yet reduced cybercrime haul compared to 2022.
  • DPRK’s sophisticated hacking methods focus on compromising digital wallet security, using advanced laundering techniques to evade detection.
  • Despite international efforts to curb cybercrime, North Korea’s escalating cyber thefts, totaling nearly $1.5 billion in two years, highlight the need for enhanced global cybersecurity measures.
North Korean Cyber Heists Net $600 Million in Crypto in 2023
North Korean Cyber Heists Net $600 Million in Crypto in 2023

TRM Labs reported that hackers with ties to North Korea stole over $600 million in cryptocurrencies in 2023. Moreover, these figures could surge to $700 million, considering additional end-of-year hacks. This represents a significant portion of global crypto thefts despite a 30% decrease from the 2022 figure.

These hackers, linked to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), have shown proficiency in cybercrime. They typically compromise digital wallet security, seizing private keys and seed phrases. Consequently, they transfer the stolen assets to their controlled wallets. These funds often undergo conversion through high-volume OTC brokers, mainly into USDT or Tron.

Adapting to Global Enforcement

North Korea’s laundering methods continuously evolve, showcasing their ability to adapt to international enforcement pressures. With US sanctions targeting their preferred platforms like Tornado Cash and ChipMixer, DPRK swiftly moved to other services, including the BTC service Sinbad. Following the sanction of Sinbad in November 2023, the regime began exploring new laundering tools.

An Ongoing Threat in Cybersecurity

North Korea’s cyber-theft capabilities remain a significant global threat. Nearly $1.5 billion was stolen in the past two years, indicating their advanced and persistent cybercrime strategies. This calls for ongoing vigilance and innovation from both businesses and governments worldwide. Despite improvements in cybersecurity and international collaboration, 2024 is expected to witness continued disruptions by this formidable cyber thief.


The persistent and sophisticated cyber heists by North Korea, resulting in a staggering $600 million in stolen cryptocurrencies in 2023 alone, starkly highlight the evolving challenges in global cybersecurity. As the DPRK continues to adapt its tactics to bypass international sanctions and enforcement, the urgent need for enhanced, collaborative security measures becomes increasingly clear. Addressing this growing threat requires a concerted global effort, combining advanced technology and strategic policymaking to safeguard digital assets against such formidable cybercriminal activities.

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