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Cybercrime group Lazarus behind Ronin hack

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US officials claimed that the North Korean cybercrime group, Lazarus, is responsible for the Ronin Bridge hack that resulted in the theft of more than US$600,000,000 in cryptocurrency. On April 14, 2022, The United States Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) list has already added a specific Ethereum address to its sanctions. 

This recent development was prompted when wallet profiler Nansen identified the sanctioned address as a ‘Ronin Bridge Exploiter’. Shortly after, Chainalysis posted a tweet saying that it ‘received 173,600 ETH and 25.5 million USDC from the Ronin Bridge smart contract during the attack.’

‘We are still in the process of adding additional security measures before redeploying the Ronin Bridge to mitigate future risk. Expect the bridge to be deployed by end of month. Security comes first. The timeline is subject to change based on the implementation time of several security measures’, Ronin Network stated in a blog post. 

However, this is not the first time the Lazarus group has carried out similar network attacks and crypto theft. A recent report published by Chainalysis showed that the hackers had stolen nearly $400 million worth of digital assets on different platforms in 2021. These attacks utilised malware, phishing lures, code exploits and complex social engineering to extract funds from hot wallets and transfer them to DPRK-controlled addresses. 

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), these crypto-related crimes are executed to support the Kim Jong Un regime in maintaining its ballistic missile programs.

‘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,’ the FBI said in a statement.

The attack is now considered to be one of the biggest hacks in crypto history, forcing Axie Infinity’s creator Sky Mavis to pay back US$450,000,000 to users who lost their funds. Led by Binance, the company has managed to raise US$150,000,000 to resolve the hack.

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