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US: North Korean Hackers behind Massive Crypto Heist

US: North Korean Hackers behind Massive Crypto Heist
folder_openUnited States access_time2 months ago
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By Staff, Agencies

The US claimed that North Korean-backed hackers were behind stealing some $620 million in cryptocurrency last month, according to a statement on Thursday.

The hackers targeted the popular Axie Infinity game, where players can earn Ethereum-based cryptocurrency through game play.

The hackers walked away with 173,600 ether, Ethereum’s coin, and $25.5 million-worth of USDC, a stablecoin pegged to the US dollar.

“The United States is aware that the DPRK has increasingly relied on illicit activities – including cybercrime – to generate revenue for its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs as it tries to evade robust US and UN sanctions,” a Treasury Department spokesperson said, using the initials of North Korea's official name.

In its statement, the FBI underlined: “Through our investigations we were able to confirm Lazarus Group and APT38, cyber actors associated with [North Korea], are responsible for the theft.”

Lazarus Group gained fame in 2014 after hackers breached Sony Pictures Entertainment as revenge for “The Interview,” a comedy film that poked fun at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The thieves took advantage of Ronin, a sidechain linked to Ethereum made by Axie Infinity’s creators, Sky Mavis. While Ronin is used to quickly make transactions instead of using Ethereum’s blockchain, this was exploited by the hackers.

The theft was the biggest heist in terms of value in US dollars.