US Associates Group of North Korean Hackers to Register Crypto Heist

JThe US Treasury Department has linked North Korean hacking group Lazarus to the theft of over $600 million in cryptocurrency from a software bridge used for popular game Axie Infinity.

The department on Thursday added an Ethereum wallet address linked to the group to its sanctions list. More than $86 million of the stolen Ronin Bridge cryptocurrency was moved from the wallet through a service called Tornado Cash that allows anonymous token transfers, according to the data.

The Treasury, according to a spokesperson, worked with the FBI to find the wallet, the use of which could expose other virtual currency users to the threat of US sanctions.

The FBI said in a statement that an investigation determined the Lazarus Group and APT38 hacking teams, both associated with North Korea, were behind the theft. The office added that such crimes generate revenue for the North Korean regime.

Treasury spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said secondary sanctions could be imposed on anyone who tries to support Kim Jong Un’s regime through money laundering, counterfeiting of goods or currency , bulk money smuggling or narcotics trafficking. The sanctions would also apply to people who try to help a senior official of this government.

The hack was probably the largest ever in the cryptocurrency world. The software bridge was built to reduce traffic and costs on the Ethereum blockchain caused by the popularity of Axie Infinity, which was created by Vietnamese developer Sky Mavis. The bridging technology has come under fire after more than $1 billion worth of cryptocurrencies were stolen in just over a year from crypto bridges.

According to a report by Chainalysis, North Korean cybercriminals have launched multiple attacks on crypto platforms that mined nearly $400 million in digital assets last year. Many attacks were carried out by the Lazarus group, the research firm noted.

Meanwhile, blockchain data shows that 28,000 Ether associated with the Ronin Bridge hack has been transferred to Tornado Cash.

The data shows that these funds were moved from the main wallet used by the hackers to different wallets. On these new wallets, batches of transactions of 100 Ether were made to Tornado Cash.

Ronin noted on his website that the FBI attributed the Lazarus Group to the offense and that the Treasury sanctioned the address. Representatives for Sky Mavis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Treasury spokesperson said the department was seeking to issue crypto cybersecurity guidance to help guard against illicit activity.

With the help of Olga Kharif

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