Hackers in North Korea are once again making headlines. They are being blamed for the recent attack on a California-based crypto exchange called Harmony that ultimately resulted in more than $100 million in crypto funds vanishing overnight.
Hackers in North Korea Labeled “Harmony Attackers”
Three digital investigative firms have concluded that North Korea was at the center of the attack on Harmony. The money was stolen on the date of June 23 from a division known as Horizon Bridge, a service provided by Harmony that joins various blockchains together to create easy transfers between wallets and technology types.
Chainalysis was the first to suggest North Korea’s involvement in the event. The blockchain analysis firm noticed similarities between this hack and others performed by Lazarus and various hacking groups, all of which have been confirmed to be based in North Korea. The attack in this case involved a high velocity of structured payments, similar with a mixer. Chainalysis says this is a staple of the North Korea hacking playbook.
This conclusion has since been reached by various other blockchain analysis companies. In a recent interview, Nick Carlsen – a former FBI analyst that now investigates North Korea-based crypto heists for TRM Labs – said:
Preliminarily, this looks like a North Korean hack based on transaction behavior.
The sentiment is that North Korea has been stealing crypto funds for some time (believing that they are anonymous or hard to trace) as a means of funding its ongoing nuclear program. It is suggested in a recent report offered by blockchain cybersecurity firm Elliptic that Lazarus is the organization behind the recent attack. The report states:
The thief is attempting to break the transaction trail back to the original theft. This makes it easier to cash out the funds at an exchange.
While nothing is fully confirmed yet, experts claim that if North Korea was indeed behind the recent hack, this would mark the eighth time the country was involved in a crypto-related heist in 2022. The country has allegedly made off with more than $1 billion in stolen crypto funds in just the last few months alone.
A Lot of Money Has Been Stolen
Among other major hacks to occur at the hands of North Korea this year involved Axie Infinity. An online gaming platform that issues its own crypto units for in-play purchases, the company saw more than $600 million in digital funds disappear.
The good news is that South Korean officials have explained it may be somewhat difficult at this time for the hackers to cash in on their stolen crypto given how much the market is crashing. Falling prices have made it hard for criminals to engage in illicit activities and even harder to find hope in an industry that at one point, was synonymous with events such as these.