North Korean hackers believed to be behind $100 million Harmony exploit

The notorious North Korean hacking group – the Lazarus Group – is believed to be the one who attacked the Harmony cryptocurrency protocol. The criminal organization has been involved in numerous similar burglaries over the past few years.

The next victim of the Lazarus group

Last week, Harmony revealed that thugs had breached its Horizon Bridge and drained around $100 million from Ethereum. Shortly after, Harmony’s team launched a “global manhunt” for the criminals responsible for the attack.

Cited Per Bloomberg, the company that tracks stolen digital assets – Elliptic Enterprises – said the exploit was most likely carried out by the Lazarus Group (a North Korean state-backed cybercrime entity). According to the company, the laundering methods were very similar to the maneuvers previously used by hackers:

“There are strong indications that the North Korean group Lazarus may be responsible for this theft, based on the nature of the hack and subsequent laundering of the stolen funds.”

Additionally, Elliptic went into detail about how the heist was carried out. The Lazarus Group targeted the username and password credentials of Harmony employees in the Asia-Pacific region to breach the protocol’s security system. Once they took control, the criminals used automated laundering services to move the stolen assets around overnight.

Elliptic also claimed that the hacking organization had already transferred more than 40% of the $100 million to a Tornado Cash mixer.

A recent research conducted by Coincub valued that North Korea is by far the highest ranked country for crypto crime. Over the years, skilled hackers from the totalitarian country have targeted governments and private companies around the world, stealing more than $1.5 billion in digital assets between 2017 and 2022.

Stolen Crypto Fuels Nuclear Experiments

Earlier this year, the United Nations (UN) also accused North Korea of ​​stealing cryptocurrencies worth millions of dollars and claimed that the Asian state had used these assets to finance missile and nuclear tests.

The UN said the North Korean government launched nine nuclear experiments in January alone, the most such tests the nation has carried out in a single month.

Despite multiple warnings and harsh sanctions, Pyongyang has continued to develop its ballistic missile infrastructure:

“The DPRK has demonstrated increased rapid deployment capabilities, high mobility (including at sea) and improved resilience of its missile forces.”

Unsurprisingly, Russia and China refused to sign the UN statement, which accuses North Korea of ​​funding its nuclear tests with stolen crypto assets.

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