US Seizes Cryptocurrency Worth $30 Million From North Korean Hackers – According to blockchain data analytics company Chainalysis, hackers from North Korea were found to have stolen $30 million worth of cryptocurrencies. The company’s director of investigations said, “This represents the first time ever that cryptocurrency stolen by a North Korean hacking group has been seized, and we’re confident it won’t be the last.”
At the Axiecon conference on Thursday, Erin Plante, a senior director of investigations at the blockchain data analytics company Chainalysis, revealed that law enforcement had taken millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrencies from North Korean hackers.
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She added: More than $30 million worth of bitcoin stolen by North Korean-linked hackers has been recovered with the collaboration of law enforcement and top industry organizations. “This marks the first time ever that cryptocurrency stolen by a North Korean hacking group has been seized, and we’re confident it won’t be the last,” the director emphasized.
Plante noted that Chainalysis contributed to the seizures by using “advanced tracing techniques to follow stolen funds to cash out points and liaising with law enforcement and industry players to quickly freeze funds,” which represents about 10% of the total funds stolen from Axie Infinity (taking into account price differences between time stolen and seized).
In March, more than $600 million from Ronin Network was stolen. Ronin Network was a sidechain created for the play-to-earn game Axie Infinity. Chainalysis revealed that five of the nine private keys held by the transaction validators for Ronin Network’s cross-chain bridge were compromised by the North Korea-affiliated hacking group Lazarus Group.
The North Korea-linked gang then started two withdrawal transactions, the firm said, using “over 12,000 different crypto addresses to-date,” the first for 173,600 ether (ETH) and the second for 25.5 million USD Coin (USDC). According to Chainalysis, the stolen ETH currencies were mixed in batches using the well-known mixing service Tornado Cash.
However, once Tornado Cash was forbidden by the United States “Lazarus Group has moved away from the popular Ethereum mixer, instead leveraging defi (decentralized finance) services to chain hop, or switch between several different kinds of cryptocurrencies in a single transaction,” the blockchain data analytics company said in a statement to the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
The director of investigations stated: “We estimate that so far in 2022, North Korea-linked groups have stolen approximately $1 billion of cryptocurrency from defi protocols.” further explaining that “one of the most troubling trends in crypto crime right now is the stunning rise in funds stolen from defi protocols, and in particular cross-chain bridges.”