US accuses North Korean group of orchestrating attack on Ronin Network

According to US authorities, it was one of the groups involved in the attack on Sony Pictures in 2018. Some observers believe that the stolen funds are used to finance North Korea’s nuclear programs.

Lazarus, a group of North Korean hackers, has been identified as responsible for the hack that caused the Ronin Network blockchain network to lose around $625 million on March 22. This was recently revealed by the US Treasury Department, which is based on an FBI investigation targeting the Asian country.

New sanctions and upcoming recovery

Ronin Network, it should be noted, was set up to allow players of Axie Infinity, one of the most popular games of the moment integrating NFTs, to exchange their virtual tokens for cryptocurrencies. During the attack, the criminals transferred 173,600 ether ($597 million) and USDC worth $25.5 million to their Etherum wallet.

The address of this wallet has been confirmed as belonging to Lazarus by two analyst firms specialized in Blockchain, Chainalysis and Elliptic. The latter also estimates that 14% of the stolen funds have already been laundered, and an additional $9.7 million could soon be.

Following the FBI’s discovery, the Treasury Department, through its (), issued new sanctions against Lazarus’ wallet. Among other things, any US citizen or entity is prohibited from carrying out transactions on said wallet.

For its part, Ronin Network said: We continue to take additional security measures before redeploying the Ronin Bridge, to prevent any future risk». The network has effectively been shut down since the attack. However, according to its officials, it should become operational again by the end of April.

Regarding Lazarus, the group, according to Chainalysis, has ties to the North Korean intelligence agency and is behind at least seven crypto attacks that took place in 2021. The US government, following the identification of Lazarus as responsible for the attack suffered by Ronin Network, offers a $5 million reward to anyone who provides him with information that can help apprehend the criminals.

Hack crypto: the threat grows

Although it stands out as the biggest hack to date, the attack on Ronin is not an isolated phenomenon in the cryptocurrency community.

Since the beginning of this year, hackers targeting crypto exchanges have managed to steal $1.2 billion, according to a report obtained by Yahoo Finance.

Last year, a hacker managed to transfer $611 million in digital assets from Poly Network; however, the majority of funds have been returned. We can also cite the cases of Kucoin and Coincheck, from which hackers stole $285 million and $547 million, respectively, in 2020 and 2018.

The current trend indicates that hackers’ appetite for cryptocurrencies will grow in the coming years. For example, crypto worth more than $2.8 billion was stolen via scams in 2021. Which, according to Chainalysis, is an 82% increase from the year before. This same firm estimates the amount laundered through cryptocurrencies at $8.6 billion in 2021.

It is also to guard against attacks similar to those of Lazarus that a giant like Binance created in 2018 its security fund, the Secure Asset Fund (SAFU). This fund acts as a useful emergency safe in the event that the world leader in crypto comes under attack again.


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