The FBI on Monday evening released a report blaming North Korean government-linked hackers for stealing $100 million in cryptocurrency last June from a California-based firm.
This month, North Korean operatives laundered over $60 million of the money stolen in the June hack, according to the FBI statement. The bureau said “a portion” of the $60 million was frozen, but did not specify how much.
North Korean hackers have stolen the equivalent of billions of dollars in recent years by raiding cryptocurrency exchanges, according to the United Nations. This is just one of a series of digital heists that US officials worry Pyongyang will use to fund its illicit nuclear and ballistic weapons program.
The June hack targeted a “bridge” – or a program that allows for the transfer of cryptocurrency – run by Harmony, a California-based cryptocurrency firm. This allowed the intruders to steal $4 million worth of the digital tokens.
Suspected North Koreans have posed as other nationalities to apply for work at cryptocurrency firms and send money back to Pyongyang, US agencies have warned. A CNN investigation found at least one cryptocurrency entrepreneur who unwittingly paid a North Korean tech worker tens of thousands of dollars.
Despite the plummeting of the value of cryptocurrency last year, the suspected North Korean hacks of virtual currency assets have continued. The FBI last April blamed North Korean government-backed hackers for a roughly $600-million hack of popular video game company. The hackers have also been linked to attacks on South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges, with the value of digital assets in the country dropping by 50% in the first half of 2018.