With $3.8 billion stolen, 2022 was the biggest year ever for cryptocurrency hacking: Chainalysis

With $3.8 billion stolen, 2022 was the biggest year ever for cryptocurrency hacking: Chainalysis

According to research released by Chainalysis, a US-based blockchain analytics company, last year was the worst for cryptocurrency thefts. The hackers stole up to $3.8 billion, led by attackers connected to North Korea. Cryptocurrency hacking activity “ebbed and flowed” throughout the year, with “massive increases” in March and October, according to a Chainalysis analysis. Thirty-two separate attacks resulted in the theft of $775.7 million, making October the largest single month ever for cryptocurrency hacking.

In 2022, the cryptocurrency market struggled as risk-taking decreased, and several crypto businesses collapsed. Regulators increased requests for more consumer protection due to the significant losses suffered by investors.

More than 82 percent of the cryptocurrency stolen in 2022 was attributed to targets in “decentralized finance,” or DeFi, a booming sector of the cryptocurrency industry, according to the research.

“DeFi protocols as victims accounted for 82.1% of all cryptocurrency stolen by hackers — a total of $3.1 billion — up from 73.3% in 2021. And of that $3.1 billion, 64% came from cross-chain bridge protocols specifically,” Chainalysis reported.

Financial platforms called DeFi applications to allow lending in cryptocurrencies outside of conventional banks.

North Korea-linked Cryptocurrency hackers

The research stated that North Korea-linked hackers, including those in the cybercrime group Lazarus Group, had been the most active cryptocurrency thieves and stole an estimated $1.7 billion in various attacks last year.

Last year, US law enforcement confiscated $30 million in stolen funds from hackers with ties to North Korea.

An expert panel monitoring UN sanctions claims North Korea has become increasingly dependent on hacking to fund its missile and nuclear weapons programs.

“North Korea-linked hackers such as those in cybercriminal syndicate Lazarus Group have been the most prolific cryptocurrency hackers over the last few years. In 2022, they shattered their records for theft, stealing an estimated $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency across several hacks we’ve attributed to them. For context, North Korea’s total exports in 2020 totaled $142 million worth of goods, so it isn’t a stretch to say that cryptocurrency hacking is a sizable chunk of the nation’s economy. Most experts agree the North Korean government is using these stolen to fund its nuclear weapons programs,” Chainalysis mentioned in its report.


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