In 2023, crypto hacks by North Korean hackers have seen a dramatic 80% reduction, with only $340.4 million stolen compared to the previous year’s staggering $1.7 billion. Despite this decline, experts are urging caution, highlighting that it doesn’t necessarily signify enhanced security or reduced criminal activity within the cryptocurrency realm. Chainalysis, a blockchain forensics firm, has underscored this issue in a recent report, warning that the threat is far from over, and the world is merely one major hack away from surpassing the billion-dollar mark in stolen funds this year.

Causes of the Crypto Hack’s Decline

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Cryptocurrency funds stolen by North Korean-backed groups between 2016-2023. Source: Chainalysis

The reduction in North Korean-linked cryptocurrency thefts & crypto hacks may seem like a step in the right direction, but Chainalysis highlights a crucial factor to consider. The year 2022 witnessed a record high of illicit funds stolen, setting an alarmingly high benchmark for comparison. As a result, the decrease in thefts in 2023 should not be taken as a sign of improved security measures.

Read more: CoinEx Exchange Suspects $27 Million Cryptocurrency Hack

Funds /Crypto Hacks Were Stolen From North Korean Hacking Groups Vs. Others Between 2016 And 2023. Source: Chainalysis
Funds were stolen from North Korean hacking groups vs. others between 2016 and 2023. Source: Chainalysis

The crypto community must remain vigilant, as hackers are adept at adapting their tactics and are always seeking new opportunities to strike.

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Persistent Crypto Hack and National Security Concerns

Despite the decrease in overall theft, North Korea’s Lazarus Group remains a significant player in the crypto hack landscape. Recent events have seen the group linked to two separate attacks, Stake ($40 million) on September 4 and CoinEx ($55 million) on September 12, resulting in a combined loss of over $95 million. Shockingly, these North Korea-linked attacks account for approximately 30% of all cryptocurrency funds & crypto hacks stolen through hacks in 2023, underscoring the group’s persistence.

Read more: Whale Loses $24 Million in Crypto Phishing Attack: How to Protect Your Assets

Erin Plante, Vice President of Investigations at Chainalysis, highlights the need for cryptocurrency firms to bolster their defenses. To counter the social engineering tactics often deployed by hacker groups, employees should receive training to recognize and mitigate these risks effectively. North Korean hackers are known for exploiting human trust and carelessness, making employee education a critical component of security.


In conclusion, while the drop in North Korean cryptocurrency thefts in 2023 may provide some relief, it primarily reflects the exceptionally high benchmark set in the previous year rather than improved security. The persistent threat from North Korea’s Lazarus Group remains a concern, as highlighted by recent attacks. To combat this threat, crypto firms should invest in employee training to counter social engineering tactics. International efforts, including those led by the United Nations, are crucial to curbing North Korea’s cybercrime activities, which allegedly fund its nuclear missile program. The evolving crypto landscape, coupled with increased smart contract audits, is expected to make life more challenging for hackers. To protect the crypto ecosystem from malicious actors like North Korean hackers, proactive measures and global cooperation are imperative.

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