U.S. Officials Connect North Korea's 'Lazarus' Hackers to a $625 Million Cryptocurrency Theft

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U.S. Officials Connect North Korea’s ‘Lazarus’ Hackers to a $625 Million Cryptocurrency Theft

U.S. Officials Connect North Korea's 'Lazarus' Hackers to a $625 Million Cryptocurrency Theft
Kim Jong Un, North Korea's leader, reacts while watching an honor guard before his departure to North Korea at the railway station in Vladivostok, Russia, on Friday, April 26, 2019. Kim said the summit will be a starting point for productive talks on cooperation, Vesti TV reported him as saying in an interview. Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Source: CoinDesk
1649999052 15 Apr / 05:04

Late this month, Axie Infinity's Ronin blockchain was subject to a massive exploit.

The U.S. Treasury Department said that the North Korean hacker organization Lazarus was involved in stealing over $600 million worth of cryptocurrencies via the Axie Infinity-connected Ronin bridge.

Thursday, the Treasury Department added an Ethereum address to its list of penalties. Thursday, CoinDesk confirmed that wallet profiler Nansen had branded the sanctioned address as a "Ronin Bridge Exploiter." It possessed 148,000 ETH at the time of publishing. CoinDesk independently validated the wallet's association with the Ronin vulnerability.

The address "was implicated in the Ronin hack," the crypto monitoring firm Chainalysis tweeted. Thursday, the tracing company Elliptic calculated that 14 percent of the stolen assets had already been laundered.

In a blog post, Ronin Network stated that the FBI had tied Lazarus to the validator breach, and the Treasury Department had authorized the cash.
“We are currently in the process of integrating additional security measures before redeploying the Ronin Bridge to prevent future risk,” the blog stated, aiming for deployment by the end of the month and promising a comprehensive post-mortem in the future.

Sky Mavis, the creators of the play-to-earn game Axie Infinity, was hacked last month, losing 173,600 ETH and 25.5 million USDC, valued at $625 million at the time. Ronin is a sidechain connected to the main Ethereum blockchain but enables quicker and cheaper transactions. It is one of the most considerable exploits in the history of cryptography.

A source in the tracing industry told CoinDesk that Thursday’s action marks the first time the Treasury’s sanctions division has banned a suspected Lazarus-held cryptocurrency wallet.
A spokeswoman for the Treasury Government stated that the department has collaborated with the FBI to investigate the Lazarus Group and Advanced Persistent Threat 38. (another North Korean entity believed to use malicious programming to steal funds).

“The wallet’s identification will make it evident to other venture capital participants that by trading with it, they risk being subject to US penalties. This reflects Treasury’s dedication to using all available powers to thwart harmful cyber actors and stop illicit earnings, “The representative stated. “Person(s) who knowingly engage in money laundering, the counterfeiting of goods or currency, bulk cash smuggling, or narcotics trafficking in support of the Government of North Korea or any senior official or person acting on behalf of that Government may be subject to mandatory secondary sanctions.”

The spokesman asserted that anti-money laundering and opposing the funding of terrorism were “crucial” chokepoints for preventing money laundering with stolen cash and urged the cryptocurrency sector to apply these protections.

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