The collapse of FTX.com and its far-reaching impacts will hinder North Korea's ability to profit from cryptocurrency hacks, Troy Stangarone, senior director at the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI), wrote in the online news magazine The Diplomat.
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According to Stangarone, the FTX meltdown will negatively impact North Korea in three main ways: overall reduced value of cryptocurrencies; firms opting to ramp up their security systems; and increased regulatory scrutiny.
The U.S.-Korea relations expert said that the regime's zero-Covid policy has led to its decline in exports, prompting the hermit kingdom to compensate for its losses with crypto heists. Its trade with China - its biggest trade partner - plummeted around 90% in 2021 when compared to that of pre-COVID 2019, Nikkei reported.
North Korea has been funding its nuclear and ballistic missile programs with profits from cyberattacks on crypto exchanges, Reuters reported earlier this year, citing a confidential United Nations report.
U.S.-based blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis reported in September that North Korea had stolen about US$1 billion worth of cryptocurrencies just from decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols in the first eight months of 2022.
Last month, Japan's National Police Agency announced that North Korea-backed hacker group Lazarus had been sending phishing emails to Japanese crypto exchange employees to infect their computers with malware.
The FBI accused North Korea of conducting the US$620 million crypto heist on Axie Infinity's Ronin Bridge, and blockchain analytics firm Elliptic accused the state of hacking US$100 million out of the Horizon Bridge of Harmony. Both cyberattacks, which took advantage of bridges that enable interaction between two blockchains, took place earlier this year.
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