Skip to main content

North Korea pulled huge $600 million crypto heist, feds say

The U.S. Department of the Treasury managed to track down the culprit of the massive Axie Infinity cryptocurrency heist. It turns out that a North Korean hacker group called Lazarus stands behind the theft, which amounted to over $600 million worth of crypto being stolen.

In response to the theft, the group involved had been added to the U.S. international sanctions list.

THREAD: Updates to OFAC’s SDN designation for Lazarus Group confirm that the North Korean cybercriminal group was behind the March hack of Ronin Bridge, in which over $600 million worth of ETH and USDC was stolen.

— Chainalysis (@chainalysis) April 14, 2022

The attack took place in March of this year and it targeted Axie Infinity, a blockchain-based game that involves cryptocurrency transactions. Although the game is based on Ethereum, it utilizes a blockchain called Ronin. This allows the players to perform all the necessary transactions without paying the hefty fees of the standard Ethereum blockchain.

The two chains are connected by a digital bridge. It’s a helpful workaround for day-to-day users, but unfortunately, an exploit in the bridge between Ethereum and Ronin resulted in a massive theft. The hack conducted by the Lazarus Group resulted in 173,600 Ethereum and 25.5 million USDC being stolen. USDC is a so-called stable coin, which means it’s pegged to the U.S. dollar. At the time of the theft, the two currencies pooled together amounted to over $600 million.

Initially, it was unclear whether the Specially Designated Nationals List update referred to the Axie Infinity heist specifically. However, the Department of the Treasury confirmed to PC Gamer that the new entry refers to the hack conducted by Lazarus. The cryptocurrency wallet that collected the stolen funds was discovered by the FBI as part of an ongoing investigation of North Korea.

Lazarus is a state-sponsored group of hackers, and this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about their attacks. According to Chainalysis, the group stole at least $400 million worth of digital assets in 2021. However, this means that the 2022 Axie Infinity hack is a huge escalation, seeing as the group managed to steal over $600 million in one go.

Illustration of a woman putting a bitcoin into a piggy bank.
Taylor Frint/Digital Trends Graphic

The funds obtained through these crypto attacks are most likely used to fund North Korea’s weapon programs. Elliptic, a cryptosecurity firm, estimates that the country has already laundered 18% of the $600 million Lazarus managed to obtain.

An anonymous FBI representative said to PC Gamer: Through our investigation, we were able to confirm Lazarus Group and APT38, cyber actors associated with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), are responsible for the theft of $620 million in Ethereum reported on March 29th. The FBI, in coordination with Treasury and other U.S. Government partners, will continue to expose and combat the DPRK’s use of illicit activities — including cybercrime and cryptocurrency theft — to generate revenue for the regime.”

This is a huge hit for Axie Infinity, a game that relies on helping users profit rather than just to have fun. Sky Mavis, the developers of Axie Infinity, said that additional security measures are being added to the Ronin Bridge. Hopefully, this time around, the bridge will be secure enough to not be breached.

Editors' Recommendations

Monica J. White
Monica is a UK-based freelance writer and self-proclaimed geek. A firm believer in the "PC building is just like expensive…
Get this 14-inch HP laptop for $180 in the Best Buy Memorial Day sale
HP Laptop 14

Often a leader when it comes to laptop deals, Best Buy has a great offer on a super cheap HP 14-inch laptop. Usually priced at $200, this HP 14-inch laptop is down to $180 for a limited time only as part of the Best Buy Memorial Day sale. Now you might be thinking how that's 'only' $20 off but when you consider this laptop is already only $200, that 10% discount adds up fast. Making it more affordable for many on a tight budget, let's take a look at why it's worth it, or you can simply hit the buy button below.

Why you should buy the 14-inch HP 14z Laptop
There's no denying this HP 14-inch laptop is fairly basic. It's well-suited for web browsing or typing up documents via Google Docs or similar, but we wouldn't count on it for anything slightly demanding. It has an Intel Celeron processor along with 4GB of memory and 64GB of eMMC storage so it's pretty basic in every way. Running Windows 11 Home in S mode means it can cope with simple activities while its 14-inch HD display at least offers BrightView technology to make things look better.

Read more
Memorial Day sales knock $600 off this Asus gaming laptop
asus rog strix g15 deal best buy may 2023 advantage edition promotional render

Looking for gaming laptop deals? Best Buy has one of the best of the bunch with $600 off the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition gaming laptop. Usually priced at $1,700, it's down to $1,100 for a limited time only making this one of the more tempting laptop deals around. If you're looking for a stylish and powerful gaming laptop, you can't go wrong here. Either hit the buy button or keep reading while we tell you more about it.

Why you should buy the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition
Asus has made some of the best gaming laptops over the years. Known to be one of the best laptop brands, that's reflected in the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition. It has a powerful AMD Ryzen 9 5980HX processor which is supported by 16GB of memory and 512GB of SSD storage. For the graphics card, there's a Radeon RX 6800M graphics card with 12GB of dedicated VRAM to help ensure you can play the latest games without an issue. The screen is a delight too with a 15.6-inch QHD display with 165Hz refresh rate and 100% sRGB color gamut for fantastic color and clarity.

Read more
Google’s ChatGPT rival just launched in search. Here’s how to try it
Generative AI in Google Search.

Ever since Microsoft started integrating ChatGPT into Bing search, alarm bells have been ringing at Google. Now, though, the tech giant has started rolling out its own generative artificial intelligence (AI) tool for users as part of its bid to retain its search crown.

In a blog post, the company explains that the new feature (called Search Generative Experience, or SGE) is part of Google’s Search Labs, which lets you test out experimental ideas in Google search and provide feedback to the company. Google says its generative AI will “help you take some of the work out of searching, so you can understand a topic faster, uncover new viewpoints and insights and get things done more easily.”

Read more