North Korean Hackers Will Be Behind New $100 Million Cryptocurrency Theft

The modus operandi of the theft responds to others that have been attributed to North Korean hackers. EFE / Sasha Steinbach

The theft of an American company last week, which was in the vicinity of 100 million dollars in cryptocurrencyHe appears to have hackers from North Korea, a regime that is escalating its attempts to secure funding for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Three digital research firms concluded that the assets were stolen on June 23 from Horizon Bridge, a service run by Harmony Blockchain that allows assets to be transferred to other blockchains.

Hacker activity since the theft suggests they may be linked to North Koreawhich is believed to be among the most prevalent cyber attackers.

Attack method and high speed of structured payments to the mixer, used to hide the origin of funds, andChainalysis, a blockchain company working with Harmony to investigate the attack, said on Twitter on Tuesday that it is similar to previous attacks that have been attributed to North Korean-linked actors.

Other researchers shared this conclusion.

Initially, this looks like a North Korean hack based on transaction behaviour.Nick Carlsen, a former FBI analyst, is now investigating crypto thefts from North Korea for TRM Labs, a US-based company.

Another company, Elliptic, said in a report Thursday that there are strong indications that North Korea’s Lazarus Group may be responsible for the theft, based on the nature of the attack and the subsequent laundering of stolen funds.

This year there were eight cryptocurrency thefts attributed to North Korea worth $1 billion.  (Photo: ifep.com/Scyther)
This year there were eight cryptocurrency thefts attributed to North Korea worth $1 billion. (Photo: ifep.com/Scyther)

“The thief is trying to trace the transaction to the original theft”said the report. “This makes it easier to withdraw money on the exchange.”

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US officials say Lazarus is under the control of the General Bureau of Reconnaissance, North Korea’s top intelligence organization, which has been accused of involvement in the “WannaCry” ransomware attacks, the hacking of international banks and customer accounts, and the 2014 cyber attacks against Sony Pictures Entertainment.

If confirmed, Chainalysis said last week’s attack would be the eighth this year, involving $1 billion in stolen money, which can be confidently attributed to North Korea. He added that thefts account for 60% of all funds stolen so far this year.

The system has invested resources in cryptocurrency thefts in recent years and was responsible for one of the largest crypto thefts recorded in March, Nearly $615 million was stolen, according to the US Treasury.

But North Korea’s ability to benefit from its stolen assets could be hampered by the recent crash in cryptocurrency markets that is believed to have wiped out millions of dollars in regime funds.

If the cryptocurrency crash continues, Experts believe Pyongyang may find other ways to fund a missile program that has cost an estimated $620 million so far this year.According to the Korea Defense Analysis Institute in Seoul.

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