Weekly News Digest #69

The record-breaking amount of crypto stolen by North Korean hackers in 2021

Almost $400M worth of cryptocurrency, mainly Ethereum, were stolen by North Korean hackers in 2021 in 7 major cyberattacks. The most notorious North Korea’s military hackers’ group was Lazarus, also known as APT38. Cryptocurrency theft has been one of the primary sources of revenue for the country since it has enabled the evasion of sanctions imposed by the USA and the UN. According to the conclusion made by the US Panel of experts in 2018, cryptocurrency hacks performed by North Korean hackers contributed to the country’s ballistic missile programs.

The fundamental hacking techniques utilised by Lazarus are software exploits, social engineering, and phishing. According to Chainalysis, the value of virtual assets stolen by North Korean hackers increased by 40% in 2021 compared to 2020. The main targets of these attacks were centralised exchanges and investment firms. Through social engineering techniques, the group withdrew funds from victims’ wallets and transferred them to the accounts controlled by North Korean hackers. 

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Government websites in Ukraine hit by a massive cyberattack

Several government websites in Ukraine, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Science, have been taken down by a “massive cyberattack”. Provocative messages have been left on these websites by malicious actors. No personal data have been stolen or altered. The Ukrainian cyber-police department is currently cooperating with the State Special Communications Service and Ukraine’s security service to analyse the incident. 

As of morning 14 January, some of the attacked websites have returned to normal functioning. The European Union is mobilising its resources to assist Ukraine in addressing the outcomes of the attack. Nobody has claimed to be responsible for the attack yet. 

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$18.7M stolen by hackers from Animoca’s Lympo NFT platform

The minting platform Lympo that mints sports-related collectibles lost around $18.7M in LMT tokens after experiencing the compromise of its hot wallets by hackers. Hackers gained access to Lympo’s operational hot wallet. The stolen assets were transferred to a single address and swapped for Ether. After that, the swapped assets were transferred to other addresses. The attackers managed to connect to Lympo’s internet-facing crypto wallet. 

Lympo took immediate measures to mitigate the scope of the damage. It was temporarily removing LMT from liquidity pools. Soon after the incident, the value of LMT token dropped by 92%. 

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175 increase in DDoS attacks reported by Cloudflare

The web infrastructure and security company Cloudflare has issued its regular report “DDoS Attack Trends for Q4 2021”. It has indicated a 175% quarter over quarter increase in DDoS attacks compared to 2020. In the first half of 2021, massive ransomware attacks targeted critical infrastructure. The victims of these attacks included schools, public sector enterprises, credit unions, and other essential services.

In the second half of 2021, Cloudflare detected the rise of a new botnet called Meris. It bombarded organisations worldwide with some of the biggest HTTP attacks ever recorded. In December 2021, one out of three respondents of the survey conducted by Cloudflare mentioned becoming a target of a ransom DDoS attack. When speaking about application-layer DDoS attacks, Cloudflare reported a shocking increase of 641% quarter over quarter. 

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A third of Americans fell victim to cyberattacks in 2021

The new study by NordVPN has revealed that a third of Americans have encountered at least one cybersecurity incident in 2021. 49% of affected individuals suffered from email scams, 35% suffered from social media hacks, and 32% suffered from payment fraud. The other widespread issues were bank account hacks and identity thefts.

Compared to 2020, there was a 27% increase in the number of cyberattacks targeting individuals in the USA in 2021 compared to 2020. The majority of hacks would have been prevented if Americans had followed proper security habits. The list of bad online habits widespread among Americans includes setting weak passwords, visiting questionable websites, using public Wi-Fi without VPN, etc. 

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