North Korean hackers consistently stole from bitcoin exchanges over the past decade, a new study says. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
April 8 (UPI) -- North Korea is connected to more than half of the world's top 10 financial hacking incidents and may have stolen about $1 billion since 2011, according to a new study.
Britain-based Traders of Crypto said in a new report North Korea has been stealing consistently from bitcoin exchanges and engaging in other forms of cyber theft, Voice of America's Korean service reported Thursday.
Of the top 10 financial heists from 2011 to 2020, five of the incidents were North Korea affiliated, the report said.
North Korea's computer hackers were responsible for the January 2018 attack on Japanese exchange Coincheck, stealing $534 million in NEM, an open-source cryptocurrency token. NEM stands for New Economic Movement. The heist is one of the biggest on record for virtual currencies, VOA reported.
North Korean hackers also were responsible for other cyber crimes: a $390 million hack of the Malaysian central bank, the theft of $170 million from the Union Bank of India and $110 million stolen from Mexico's Export-Import Bank system in January 2018.
Ondrej Krehel, chief of cybersecurity firm Lifars, told Fortune Magazine that the North Koreans are "military-trained hackers who execute their cryptocurrency swindles with military precision."
The analyst also said "almost all" cryptocurrency thefts originate from North Korea.
During virtual currency transfers that are similar to moving cash from bank vaults to ATMs, cryptocurrency moves from "cold" to "hot" wallets. Hackers "pounce" during those transfers, Krehel said, according to Fortune.
North Korean state media said Thursday that the Korean Workers' Party cell conference continued for a second day, and is likely to go on for one or more days.
Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said the party cells, consisting of grass-roots level members, are key to North Korea's "new five-year plan" first made public at the Eighth Party Congress in January.
In February, North Korean hackers were indicted in a cyber plot to steal from banks. Analysts previously have said North Korean hackers could be funding the regime's nuclear weapons program.