Japan Is Biggest Victim of North Korean Crypto Hacks

UTC by Mayowa Adebajo · 2 min read
Japan Is Biggest Victim of North Korean Crypto Hacks
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Japan alone lost at least $721 million to these attacks within 5 years.

Blockchain analytics firm Elliptic has published a study report of crypto hacks linked to North Korea. According to the report, Asia may be the favorite target in the world for these hackers. The research found out that three out of four top victims of the so-called Hermit Kingdom’s hackers are from countries within the Asian region, and that Japan is the biggest victim of these hacks.

Japan Loses $721 Million to North Korean Crypto Hacks

Japanese financial publication Nikkei, which commissioned and reported on the Elliptic study, has also revealed some important findings. This is after taking into consideration all cyberattacks (hacks and ransomware attacks) that originated from North Korea between 2017 and 2022.

According to Nikkei, Japan alone lost at least $721 million to these attacks, representing over 30% of the world’s total crypto hack losses of over $2.3 billion. The publication even suggests that the crypto attacks may be a ‘national strategy’ for North Korea. That is, the hacks might be a way for North Korea to boycott international sanctions and have access to foreign currency. Nikkei wrote:

“Cyberattacks are thought to be a national strategy meant to make up for the loss of foreign exchange from North Korea’s greatly restricted coal trade.”

Coming in second on the list of countries mostly hit by North Korean hackers is Vietnam. The report pegs the country’s losses during the said time frame at $540 million. The third and fourth countries are the United States and Hong Kong which respectively recorded $497 million and $281 million in losses.

Meanwhile, Elliptic has also revealed what might be making Asian countries an easy target for hackers. It says the crypto markets in this region are not big on security, especially in Japan and Vietnam.

Nikkei also corroborates this claim by citing an anonymous source that says no less than three Japanese crypto exchanges have been hacked in as many years. That is between 2018 and 2021.

For what it’s worth, the most notable hacks in recent years have been credited to the notorious North Korean Lazarus Group of hackers. For instance, the US Treasury confirmed that the group was responsible for the Ronin Bridge exploit of last year. Similarly, they were behind the more recent Harmony Bridge hack as well.

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