Two cryptocurrency exchanges have frozen accounts identified as having been used by the notorious North Korean group Lazarus.
This story begins with a crypto researcher who goes by “ZachXBT” and at the end of last week Point an entity called “Lazarus Group” moving 41,000 ETH “from the Harmony Bridge hack via Railgun on January 13-14, 2023 before depositing funds on three exchanges.”
1/2 North Korea’s Lazarus Group had a very busy weekend moving $63.5 million (~41,000 ETH) from the Harmony Bridge hack via Railgun before consolidating the funds and depositing on three exchanges different. pic.twitter.com/huDumaJeSh
— ZachXBT (@zachxbt) January 15, 2023
Harmony Bridge was a crypto-transfer service that was offensive in June 2022, with approximately $100 million worth of crypto lost as a result of the attack.
Analysts quickly identified Lazarus Group as the type of entity that might be interested in attacking Harmony.
He then moved on to crypto heists and was singled out for the theft of $620 million worth of crypto from game developer Sky Mavispublisher of a crypto-centric game named Axie Infinity.
North Korea steals crypto because sanctions make it difficult for the rogue nation to access fiat currencies. The nation’s murderous regime is committing massive violations of the human rights of its citizens, but needs funds to continue the conventional missile and nuclear weapons programs that help keep its leaders in power by making the cost of seeking regime change that is unacceptable to nations that oppose its violent autocracy.
The US State Department is, however, offering a $10 million reward. for more information on the state-sponsored hack of North Korea in hopes of more effectively combating North Korea’s cybercrime agenda.
While cryptocurrency enthusiasts speak lyrically about the anonymity offered by tokens, the reality is that it is possible to track their movement. The likes of the Lazarus Group therefore leave signs of their demise as they attempt to move stolen cryptocurrencies.
These attempts were spotted by ZachXBT and also noticed by crypto exchange Binance which froze accounts allegedly involved in the Lazarus Group efforts.
We have detected a movement of Harmony One hack funds. They previously tried to launder through Binance and we froze their accounts. This time he used Huobi. We helped the Huobi team freeze their accounts. Together, 124 BTC were recovered. CeFi helps keep DeFi #SAFU! 🙏
— CZ 🔶 Binance (@cz_binance) January 16, 2023
The “Huobi” mentioned in the Tweet above is another crypto exchange and it also acted to prevent the Lazarus Group from resurrecting proceeds from the Harmony heist for use by the North Korean regime.
The accounts frozen by Binance and Huobi amounted to 124BTC – $2.6 million at the time of writing.
It’s a decent change to negate the regime of North Korea. And perhaps a feather in the hat for the crypto community as it grapples with its ongoing infosec, regulatory, fraud, and existential issues. ®