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As we move further into the digital age, we are confronted with new, intangible threats.
Hardly any other industry is as badly affected by the emergence of state-sponsored crypto hacks as the cryptocurrency sector.
This includes state-sponsored hacking – an alarming phenomenon given its geopolitical implications and potential to disrupt the global economy.
However, the sums that these state-backed hackers amass, particularly through cryptocurrencies, remain largely a secret.
The following will shed light on this mystery. The trail of state-sponsored hacking in the crypto world is traced and estimates are made as to how much these digital pirates actually earn.
The rise of state-sponsored crypto hacking
Last year, cryptocurrencies worth A record-breaking $3.8 billion was stolen with North Korean-linked hackers making up a significant portion of that number.
The shift in interest to cryptocurrencies is not accidental: blockchain-based currencies promise anonymity and are difficult to trace, making them perfect for nefarious activities.
North Korean hackers, for example stole an estimated $1.7 billion in 2022.
They have been involved in some of the most significant crypto hacks of the year, including the $600 million breach Roninnetwork and a 100 million USD attack Harmony.
This suggests that cryptocurrency hacking is a significant contributor to the North Korean economy. The country’s total exports amounted to $142 million in 2020.
The hacker attacks are not limited to North Korea, as other shady states are also suspected of financing similar operations.
Although the secrecy of these operations makes it difficult to quantify the exact amount of money stolen, the scale is undoubtedly enormous.
Hacker methods: how do they work?
Decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols have been the main target of these criminals, accounting for over 80% of all stolen cryptocurrencies last year.
DeFi protocols replace traditional financial institutions with software that enables transactions directly between users via the blockchain.
These systems are vulnerable to hacks, as demonstrated by the numerous attacks on cross-chain bridge protocols.
Bridge services hold significant reserves of various coins, making them tempting targets for hackers.
Additionally, some hackers have reportedly posed as workers of various nationalities to infiltrate these companies and funnel money to their home countries.
This highlights the cunning and adaptability of hackers and illustrates how far they are willing to go to achieve their goals.
The yield: How much do they earn?
How much money these hackers make is difficult to estimate due to the lack of transparency and the highly technical nature of these thefts. Nevertheless, we can gain some insights.
2022 accounted for the ten largest Crypto hacks staggering $2.375 billion.
The highest amount was paid by the RoninBridge hack raised $612 million.
The infamous one Lazarusgroup, which is believed to be supported by the North Korean state, was involved in this attack. This demonstrates the role of state-backed cybercriminals in large-scale crypto thefts.
But it’s not just the scale of the hacks that is worrying, but also the regularity.
A report from Beosin According to the report, hacks, scams and rug pulls caused losses of $656 million in the first half of 2023, with the largest loss of 471.43 million USD coming from 108 protocol attacks alone.
Protection against crypto hacks: can the trend be reversed?
Although the situation appears threatening, all hope is not lost: law enforcement and national security agencies are stepping up their efforts to combat cybercrime.
These steps, as well as anti-money laundering measures, promise that future hacking attacks will be more difficult and less profitable.
However, one thing is certain: the further we move into the digital age, the more we will have to prepare for new threats, such as: B. on state-sponsored hacking.
Therefore, it is our responsibility to remain vigilant, continue to explore these dark waters and secure our digital future.