The FBI on Monday evening announced that North Korean government-linked hackers were responsible 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.
The recent theft of cryptocurrency by North Korean hackers is just one in a series of digital heists that US officials worry Pyongyang will use to fund its illicit nuclear and ballistic weapons program.
In the June hack, the intruders specifically targeted a “bridge” – or a program that allows for the transfer of cryptocurrency – run by Harmony, a California-based cryptocurrency firm. This allowed the hackers to steal $4 million worth of the digital currency.
Suspected North Koreans have posed as other nationalities to gain employment 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, including the theft of cryptocurrency. This is in addition to the WannaCry ransomware attack, which affected over 230,000 computers in over 150 countries.