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In 2022, the global crypto market reported a loss of more than $3.8 billion due to crypto hacking and related thefts by hackers. Chainalysis, a US-based blockchain analytics firm, published a report claiming that 2022 will be the biggest year ever for crypto hacking worldwide. It went on to say that North Korean-linked hackers drove much of last year crypto hacking activity, smashing their own yearly record for cryptocurrency theft. According to Reuters, North Korean-related accounts have been valued at a loss of millions of dollars. However, this did not stop the country hackers from stealing an estimated $1.7 billion in several hacks in 2022.
According to the Chainalysis report, Korean hackers "stole an estimated $1.7 billion in cryptocurrency across multiple hacks attributed to them." North Korea-linked hackers, such as those in the cybercriminal syndicate Lazarus Group, have been the most prolific cryptocurrency hackers in recent years, according to the report. Many experts believe that the stolen cryptocurrencies and money are being used by the North Korean government to "fund its nuclear weapons programmes."
Last year, US authorities seized approximately $30 million in stolen funds from North Korean hackers. Chainalysis stated that crypto hacking will become more difficult and less fruitful with each passing year.
The last year saw a "ebb and flow" of cryptocurrency hacking activity. However, massive increases in crypto hacking theft were reported in March and October. Approximately $775.7 million was stolen in 32 separate attacks during the month of October, while $732.4 million was stolen in March. In terms of crypto thefts, November 2022 ranked third with $531.9 million.
Since 2021, decentralised finance (DeFi) protocols have been the primary target of crypto hackers. This will only get worse in 2022. According to Chainalysis, DeFi protocols were the target of 82.1 percent of all cryptocurrency thefts committed by hackers. This is up from 73.3 percent in 2021.
According to the report, cross-chain bridge protocols accounted for 64% of the $3.1 billion in stolen crypto from DeFi. Cross-chain bridge protocols allow users to transfer their cryptocurrency from one blockchain to another.
North Korean hackers stole approximately $1.1 billion in DeFi protocol hacks.
Many of the stolen assets are sent to other DeFi protocols that are not listed on centralised exchanges by these hackers. They do this in order to convert or swap their stolen assets for more liquid assets.
According to Chainalysis, last year was one of the worst years for cryptocurrency in terms of illegal transactions totaling more than $20.1 billion.