From 2020 to mid-2021, North Korea stole tens of millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies through cyberattacks and used those funds for its missile program, according to a released UN report.
These types of cyberattacks are an important source of revenue for Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile program, investigators say.
North Korean hackers
North Korean hackers have hacked into at least three cryptocurrency exchanges in North America, Europe and Asia. The UN report cites a January investigation by cybersecurity firm Chainalysis. The authors of this investigation concluded that North Korean hackers, behind whom there is no doubt the state, could steal $400 million worth of digital assets last year alone.
Back in 2019, a UN report noted that with the help of cyberattacks, North Korea could save up to two billion dollars for its program to develop weapons of mass destruction.
Although the UN Security Council has banned North Korea from conducting nuclear tests and launching ballistic missiles, Pyongyang, according to the UN report, continues to develop its military nuclear program. It also continues to search abroad for materials and technologies needed for this program, including through cyberattacks and joint scientific research.
What’s more, UN officials watching the sanctions say Pyongyang has recently sped up its missile tests significantly.
The United States recently reported that North Korea carried out 9 missile tests in January alone. “North Korea has demonstrated new capabilities for rapid deployment, mobility (including at sea) and increased viability of its missile forces,” said UN officials dealing with sanctions against the North Korean regime.
At the same time, the humanitarian situation in North Korea continues to deteriorate. The authors of the report believe that the reason for this may be the decision of Pyongyang to close the borders in connection with the pandemic.
The UN document also says that due to the almost complete absence of information from this country, it is very difficult to understand to what extent the sanctions are to blame for the deprivation of the North Koreans.