North Korea hackers have stolen more than £37million worth of cryptocurrency to finance and develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, UN experts have said in a new report.
The annual report, by independent sanctions monitors, said there was ‘a marked acceleration’ of Pyongyang’s testing and demonstration of new short-range and possibly medium-range missiles in January, ‘incorporating both ballistic and guidance technologies and using both solid and liquid propellants’.
Investigators found that cyberattacks stole more than £37million of digital assets between 2020 and mid-2021 from at least three cryptocurrency exchanges in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Cyber attacks ‘remain an important revenue source’ for Kim Jong Un’s government and Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme, experts added.
They also said North Korea ‘continued to seek material, technology, and know-how for these programmes overseas, including through cyber means and joint scientific research.’
The report was sent to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee on Friday.
This comes following a report by blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis, which said North Korea launched at least seven attacks on cryptocurrency platforms that extracted nearly $400m worth of digital assets last year.
The report, released last month, said: ‘From 2020 to 2021, the number of North Korean-linked hacks jumped from four to seven, and the value extracted from these hacks grew by 40 percent’.
A 2019 United Nations report estimated that North Korea had already been able to spend at least $2 billion from the proceeds of cybercrime on weapons.
Another UN report said North Korean hackers are now extending their money-making activities to stealing military secrets, which they can then sell.