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2022 was the biggest year ever for a cryptocurrency hack

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When it comes to cybercriminals stealing money from cryptocurrency companies and protocols, 2022 was the worst year ever.

a report (Opens in a new tab) From Chainalysis it claims that in 2022, $3.8 billion in various tokens will be stolen.

Digging deeper into the year, analysts detected significant spikes in March and October, with the latter becoming the single biggest month for cryptocurrency thefts ever. That month, a total of 32 separate attacks took place, resulting in $775.7 million in siphoning off.

Lazarus group control

Most of the attacks saw hackers following decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols.

The trend, which began in 2021, has extended into 2022, as DeFi protocols accounted for 82.1% of all crypto-hack incidents last year (up from 73.3% the year before). All in all – $3.1 billion was stolen, with two-thirds of that amount (64%) taken from cross-chain bridging protocols.

Many hacking groups have been involved, but one specific one stands out as the worst performer – the Lazarus Group in North Korea. This group is said to have strong ties to the country’s government and is apparently using the money stolen in crypto-hacking to fund the country’s nuclear weapons program.

In 2022, the group has raised an estimated $1.7 billion in various cryptocurrencies, with $1.1 billion taken from DeFi protocols alone.

Chainalysis tried to explain the power the group wields, saying that in 2020, North Korea exported $142 million worth of goods.

But the problem with these hacks is that Lazarus Group usually ends up with large amounts of illiquid tokens, which they first need to exchange for more liquid tokens. To do this, they transfer the tokens to other DeFi protocols, and only then transfer them to mixers – crypto projects that scammers usually use to launder money.

However, researchers say law enforcement is fighting back, noting that last year the cryptocurrency was valued at $30 million (Opens in a new tab) Stolen in Axie Infinity Ronin Bridge hack. “We expect more such stories in the coming years, largely due to the transparency of the blockchain,” the researchers concluded.


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