North Korean hackers working for the government last year stole record estimated virtual assets worth between $630 million and more than $1 billion, United Nations experts said in a new report.
The think tank said in the sweeping report seen Tuesday by The Associated Press that hackers used increasingly sophisticated techniques to break into digital networks involved in cyberfinance and to steal information from governments, individuals and businesses that could be useful to Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
With tensions rising on the Korean Peninsula, the document noted that the North continued to violate UN-imposed sanctions, producing weapons-grade nuclear material and upgrading its ballistic missile program, which "continues to dramatically accelerate."
In 2022, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, its official name, fired at least 73 ballistic missiles and missiles that combined ballistic and guided technologies, including eight intercontinental missiles (ICBMs), the panel said. And of the 42 tests, including those of a suspected new type of ICBM and a new solid-fuel engine for such missiles, they took place in the last four months of the year.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered an “exponential increase in the country's nuclear arsenal” in January and, according to experts, “a new law addressed a greater focus on tactical nuclear capability, a new first-use doctrine and the ' irreversible nature' of the nuclear status of the PRDC”,
“The ability to carry out an unexpected nuclear strike on any regional or international target, outlined in the DPRK's new law on nuclear doctrine and progressively in public statements from 2021, is consistent with observed production, testing, and deployment of their tactical and strategic delivery systems," the experts stated in their report to the Security Council.
According to the group, South Korean authorities cited in media reports “estimated that DPRK-sponsored cyber threat actors had stolen around $1.2 billion worth of virtual assets globally since 2017, including about $630 million in 2022 alone.” ”.
Experts monitoring sanctions against Pyongyang noted that an unnamed cybersecurity firm “assessed that in 2022, DPRK cybercrime produced more than $1 billion worth of cybercurrency at the time of the threat, which is more than double their total earnings in 2021.”
According to the committee, Kimsuky, Lazarus Group, and Andariel, three groups that are part of the General Reconnaissance Office, North Korea's main foreign intelligence agency, "continued to unlawfully target victims to generate revenue and solicit valuable information." for the DPRK, including its weapons programs.”