North Korea is still a threat to crypto: Chainalysis

While North Korea didn’t steal as much money last year, the number of attacks climbed


Artwork by Crystal Le


A new Chainalysis report showed that North Korea-linked hacks are on the rise, despite a decrease in the total value stolen compared to the previous year.

The report estimates that North Korea-linked attackers stole roughly $1 billion in 2023, down slightly from the all-time high of $1.7 billion in 2022. 

However, the number of hacks are on the rise. The report believes North Korea clocked its highest number of known attacks at 20.

In comparison, North Korea was linked to 15 attacks in 2022.

The majority of the billion-dollar sum comes from DeFi platforms, which saw $428 million stolen. Centralized services lost $150 million, and exchanges suffered losses of $330 million. Stolen funds from wallet providers came in at $127 million. 

Read more: North America remains crypto’s biggest and best market: Chainalysis

However, “2023 saw a notable decrease of North Korean targeting of DeFi protocols, mirroring the overall drop in DeFi hacking,” the report said

Looking at the overall landscape, 2023 saw a 54% decrease in funds stolen from 2022. Keep in mind, though, that 2022 was one for the record books, with $3.7 billion stolen. Hackers only made off with $1.7 billion last year. 

Individual hacks increased last year to 231, up from 219 in 2022. The report said that the decrease in stolen funds is linked to the drop in DeFi hacking. In total, DeFi protocols lost $1.1 billion last year, down from $3.1 billion in 2022.

Read more: The 5 biggest DeFi hacks of 2023

While on and off-chain vulnerabilities “present serious concerns” for DeFi protocols, there’s reason for “optimism” the report found.

“I do think that the increase of security measures in DeFi protocols is a key factor in the reduction in the quantity of hacks related to smart contracts vulnerabilities,” Mar Gimenez-Aguilar, lead architect at Halborn, said.


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