Blockchain sleuth Chainalysis has estimated that hackers from North Korea pilfered $395 million worth of cryptocurrencies last year by conducting seven successful security breaches, Wired reports.
Notably, Ethereum accounted for 58% of the sum ($272 million). Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency, only represents a fifth of the $400 million figure. The share of Ethereum-based tokens stands at 11%.
The total amount of crypto stolen by the Hermit Kingdom has now eclipsed $1.5 billion, according to Chainalysis data.
Being one of the most heavily sanctioned countries in the world, North Korea is a pariah on the global economic stage.
Close ties with China, which purchases 90% of North Korea's goods, help to keep the floundering economy going, but the communist state also engages in various criminal activities. After drug trafficking and counterfeiting, cybercrime has emerged as a new source of revenue for the rogue communist state, with cryptocurrency exchanges being lucrative targets for North Korea's military hacking units.
In 2018, North Korean hackers pilfered $522 million, which remains its biggest yearly haul to date.
The notorious Lazarus hacking group, which pulled off a large-scale breach of Sony Pictures in 2014, was responsible for robbing Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange KuCoin of $275 million in 2020.
North Korean hackers deploy complicated techniques to launder stolen money.
Last September, Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith pleaded guilty to helping North Korea circumvent U.S. sanctions.