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The Lazarus Outfit, a North Korean hacker group, known to be funded by the Kim dictatorship, is likely responsible for the attack on Harmony Bridge last week, according to a new investigation by blockchain research firm Elliptic.
The hack emptied the service, which allows crypto assets to be transferred between the Harmony blockchain and other blockchains, of $100 million worth of crypto on June 24 morning, including ether, tether, and wrapped bitcoin.
The sophistication of North Korean hackers has increased; in 2021, they stole an estimated $400 million, primarily in ether. Already, the sum for 2022 has well surpassed that amount.
According to Elliptic, following the incident, the attackers changed the stolen funds to 85,837 ETH and, beginning on June 27, began sending part of the ETH through Tornado Cash, a mixer frequently used to launder illicitly-obtained cryptocurrency. Approximately 35,000 ETH, or 41% of the total stolen cash, have been delivered to Tornado Cash.
The Harmony Bridge attack is similar to past hacks ascribed to the Lazarus Group, such as the $635 million Ronin Bridge hack in March, which was arguably the greatest heist in the history of decentralized finance (DeFi).
Elliptic’s study also identifies other indicators that link to the Lazarus Group in the Harmony Bridge attack, such as the automated payments into Tornado Cash that match the Ronin Bridge cash programmatic laundering and the theft’s correlation with Asia-Pacific (APAC) nighttime.