North Korea Behind $100M Crypto Heist, FBI Says

California-based Harmony said in June it was the target of a cyberattack that stole $100 million in digital assets.

North Korean hackers were behind the theft of $100 million in digital assets from an American crypto firm last year, according to US law enforcement.

North Korean hacking groups Lazarus Group and APT38 carried out the cyber heist of crypto firm Harmony last June, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said in a statement on Monday.

Earlier this month, North Korean cyber actors used the Railgun privacy protocol to launder more than $60 million of Ethereum stolen in the heist, some of which was sent to several virtual asset service providers and converted to Bitcoin, the FBI said.

Harmony, which is headquartered in California, announced in June that hackers stole $100 million in digital coins from Horizon Bridge, a so-called blockchain bridge used to move cryptocurrencies between different blockchain networks.

The FBI, which previously issued an advisory on a malware campaign used in the heist dubbed “TraderTraitor”, said it froze some of the funds with the cooperation of some of the virtual asset service providers.

The FBI said it would continue to work to “identify and disrupt” efforts to steal and launder the cryptocurrency that supports the secret state’s illicit missile and nuclear weapons programs.

“The FBI will continue to expose and combat the DPRK’s use of illicit activities – including cybercrime and theft of virtual currency – to generate revenue for the regime,” the FBI said, referring to the statement. acronym for the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

North Korea, led by third-generation dictator Kim Jong Un, has been accused by US and UN officials of orchestrating a growing campaign of cyber theft to fund its activities, including the development of long-range ballistic missiles and of nuclear weapons.

South Korea’s spy agency said in December that North Korean hackers had stolen around 1.5 trillion South Korean won ($1.2 billion) worth of virtual assets over the past five years, including 800 billion South Korean won ($650.5 million) in 2022 alone.

Blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis said in a report published in January last year that the value of assets stolen in North Korea-related cyberattacks increased by 40% between 2020 and 2021.

Last month, Google’s anti-piracy unit said North Korean hackers had exploited South Korea’s murderous Halloween crowds to target internet users with malware planted in documents disguised to look like reports of the South Korean government.

In 2021, the US Department of Justice accused three North Korean computer programmers of extorting or stealing more than $1.3 billion in cash and cryptocurrency in a series of cyberattacks beginning in 2014.

North Korea, which does not usually communicate with international media, denied carrying out cyberattacks abroad and accused the United States and its allies of “spreading malicious rumours”.


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