New Delhi: North Korean-backed state hackers have stolen around $3 billion worth of cryptocurrency over the last six years since January 2017, a new report has found. According to the cybersecurity company Recorded Future, Kimsuky, Lazarus Group, Andariel, and other North Korean hacking groups have been behind such attacks. "Initially successful in stealing from financial institutions through the hijacking of the SWIFT network, North Korea shifted its attention to cryptocurrency during the 2017 bubble, starting with the South Korean market and later expanding globally," the researchers said. Hackers were accused of stealing $1.7 billion in cryptocurrency in 2022 alone, which is equivalent to 5 per cent of the country's economy or 45 per cent of its military budget. According to the report, the stolen funds, often laundered using methods similar to traditional cybercriminal groups, contribute to the regime's revenue, allowing it to operate despite international sanctions. Also ReadArtificial city lights luring birds to their deaths: Study Individual users, venture capital firms, and alternative technologies are among the targets, in addition to cryptocurrency exchanges. The report mentioned that the stolen cryptocurrency is frequently transformed into fiat currency, and North Korean threat actors utilise a variety of tactics to avoid anti-money laundering procedures, including stolen identities and altered photos. "The regime views cryptocurrency theft as a major revenue source, particularly for funding military and weapons programs. While the exact amount used for ballistic missile launches is unclear, both the volume of stolen cryptocurrency and missile launches have risen," the researchers stated. "Without stronger regulations, cybersecurity measures, and investments in cybersecurity for cryptocurrency firms, North Korea is likely to persist in targeting the industry for additional revenue," they added.