The United States has linked North Korean hackers to to a massive cryptocurrency heist worth $615m in cryptocurrency tied to the popular online game Axie Infinity, the U.S. Treasury Department said on Thursday.
Ronin, a blockchain network that lets users transfer crypto in and out of the game, said digital cash worth almost $615 million was stolen on March 23.
A post on the official Ronin blog said that the FBI had attributed the hack to the Lazarus Group and that the U.S. Treasury Department identified a digital currency address used by the hackers as being under the control of a North Korean that received the stolen funds. The Blockchain analytics firms including Chainalysis and Elliptic also confirmed that North Korea was behind the break-in.
The United States says the “Lazarus” hacking group is controlled by the Reconnaissance General Bureau, North Korea’s primary intelligence bureau. It has been accused of involvement in the “WannaCry” ransomware attacks, hacking of international banks and customer accounts, and the 2014 cyber-attacks on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
“Through our investigations we were able to confirm Lazarus Group and APT38, cyber actors associated with North Korea, are responsible for the theft,” the FBI said in a statement on Thursday.
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“The United States is aware that the DPRK has increasingly relied on illicit activities – including cybercrime – to generate revenue for its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs as it tries to evade robust U.S. and U.N. sanctions,” a Treasury Department spokesperson said, using the initials of North Korea’s official name.
The United States is pushing the U.N. Security Council to blacklist the Lazarus Group and freeze its assets, according to a draft resolution reviewed by Reuters on Wednesday.
Sky Mavis which makes Axie Infinity said it would use a combination of its own balance sheet funds and $150 million raised from investors including Binance to reimburse the lost money.
“We are still in the process of adding additional security measures before redeploying the Ronin Bridge to mitigate future risk,” the Ronin blog said. “Expect the bridge to be deployed by end of month.”