Hackers stole at least US$3.8 billion in cryptocurrencies throughout 2022, a record-breaking year for crypto heists, blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis reported on Wednesday. 

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Fast facts

  • Decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms were cybercriminals’ favorite target, accounting for more than 82% of the cryptocurrencies stolen in 2022, according to the report. 
  • DeFi offers access to financial instruments directly through the blockchain and smart contracts rather than through intermediaries such as brokerages, exchanges, or banks. 
  • Of the funds stolen from DeFi protocols last year, 64% came from cross-chain bridges, which are blockchain infrastructures that allow investors to use crypto assets from one blockchain on a different blockchain.
  • According to Chainalysis, the hacking activity came in sudden spikes, with the month of October seeing US$775.7 million in stolen funds over 32 separate attacks, making it the most successful month ever for cryptocurrency hackers.
  • Leading hacking culprits included sophisticated North Korea-linked cybercriminal syndicates such as the Lazarus Group, which stole an estimated US$1.7 billion worth of crypto assets through multiple attacks last year, the report claimed.
  • Despite the record-setting year for hacks, U.S. law enforcement successfully recovered about US$30 million in stolen funds from North Korea-linked hackers — the first crypto recoveries from North Korean cybercriminals. 

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