KuCoin Hack Likely by North Korea Says Sanctions Monitor

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  • The KuCoin hack that saw $280 million stolen from the exchange was likely carried out by state-sponsored cyber terrorists
  • A report from a sanctions monitor has told the U.N. Security Council that North Korea was behind the attack
  • Almost all the funds were recovered after the hack last year

The KuCoin hack that saw more than $280 million stolen in September last year was likely carried out by state-sponsored North Korean agents, according to a report supplied to the United Nations Security Council. Reuters reports that a preliminary enquiry into the hack, which does not formally identify KuCoin as the target, states that blockchain transactions related to both this hack and another carried out just weeks later bear hallmarks of North Korean activity, with proceeds allegedly going towards funding the country’s ballistics program in defiance of sanctions.

KuCoin Hack Traced to Pyongyang

$280 million worth of tokens was stolen from KuCoin on September 25 in one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchange hacks of 2020, although over $200 million was eventually recovered. Reuters states that a confidential report by sanctions monitors to U.N. Security Council members found blockchain transactions relating to the hack also appeared to be tied to a second hack the following month when $23 million was stolen.

KuCoin is not named, but the timing and amount stolen make it pretty clear it is the KuCoin hack of September, as is the probable perpetrator, with the monitors saying that, “Preliminary analysis, based on the attack vectors and subsequent efforts to launder the illicit proceeds, strongly suggests links to the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]”.

North Korea Has Previous

The report accuses Pyongyang of using the stolen funds to support its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in defiance of sanctions, something that North Korea has been accused of doing many times in the past. In March last year, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) outlined the methods the state-sponsored hackers use to carry out their hacks and remove the funds, although in the case of the KuCoin hack they were less successful.