North Korean Hacking Group Responsible For $600 Million Heist, US Officials Say

(Photo credit KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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The Treasury Department announced new sanctions Thursday against an Ethereum wallet belonging to a North Korean state-backed group of hackers known as the Lazarus Group.

The wallet apparently contains roughly $615-$620 million in the Ether and USDC tokens and was stolen from the Ronin Network, CNBC reported. The assets were linked to the popular blockchain game Axie Infinity, which was developed and run by Sky Mavis, the Washington Post noted.

The hack took place in March 2022 and is potentially the largest loss of digital assets in history, according to another CNBC story. (RELATED: North Korean Ship Seized By South In Tense Encounter, Warning Shots Fired)

Researchers and the FBI identified links between the hack and the North Korean Lazarus Group, leading to sanctions against the wallet. American citizens and entities are now prohibited  from making transactions with the wallet in order to ensure that the group cannot “cash out” the funds, CNBC continued

“The FBI continues to combat malicious cyber activity including the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the U.S. and our private sector partners,” the FBI wrote in a statement. “Through our investigation we were able to confirm Lazarus Group and APT38, cyber actors associated with the DPRK,  are responsible for the theft of $620 million in Ethereum reported on March 29. 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 Lazarus Group has been tied to a series of major cyberattacks, including the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures, according to the Washington Post. The latest attack comes amid concerns that digital assets will be used by North Korea and Russia to evade U.S. sanctions, CNBC reported.