Crypto hacks have helped North Korea collect $2B to fund its nuclear programs: UN report

North Korea has collected an estimated $2 billion by hacking cryptocurrency exchanges and banks to fund its nuclear programs, according to a confidential United Nations (U.N.) report.

The report, seen by Reuters, says that North Korea used “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” cyberattacks to steal the funds for its weapons of mass destruction programs.

“Democratic People’s Republic of Korea cyber actors, many operating under the direction of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, raise money for its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) programmes, with total proceeds to date estimated at up to two billion U.S. dollars,” according to the report.

The U.N. experts said North Korea’s attacks against cryptocurrency exchanges allowed it “to generate income in ways that are harder to trace and subject to less government oversight and regulation than the traditional banking sector.”

The report follows the U.N.'s earlier report this year, which said that North Korea has been carrying out major cryptocurrency hacks to bypass economic sanctions imposed over its nuclear and missile programs.

According to The Block’s research, the total amount stolen from cryptocurrency exchanges to date stands at nearly $1.39 billion.