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North Korean hacker stole $100M in cryptocurrency from Harmony, FBI announces

Hacker in a dark hoody sitting in front of a notebook with digital north korean flag and binary streams background, representing the Harmony hack.
(Photo Credit: BeeBright/Shutterstock)

North Korea Harmony crypto hack overview: 

  • Who: The Federal Bureau of Investigations said that a North Korean-backed hacker collective known as Lazarus Group was responsible for a June heist of crypto firm Harmony. 
  • Why: Lazarus Group is alleged to have stolen $100 million in cryptocurrency funds from Harmony’s Horizon bridge during the June heist. 
  • Where: Lazarus Group is a hacker collective backed by the North Korean government. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has announced that a hacker collective associated with the North Korean government was responsible for stealing $100 million in cryptocurrency from crypto firm Harmony in June. 

The FBI determined that a North Korean hacker collective known as the Lazarus Group — or, alternatively, APT38 — was responsible for the cryptocurrency theft affecting Harmony’s Horizon bridge, Law360 reported. 

Harmony’s Horizon bridge is reportedly used to enable users to transfer their funds between different blockchains. 

The heist against Harmony is only the latest to be linked to the Lazarus Group, with the North Korean hacker collective previously accused of being behind the theft of $620 million Ethereum tokens from video gme developer Axie Infinity, according to Law360. 

Lazarus Group reportedly has already used a privacy protocol known as Railgun to launder more than $60 million of the ether stolen from Harmony during the June heist. 

Blockchain analysis firm Elliptic, meanwhile, has estimated 70% of all of the funds sent through Railgun can be linked back to the heist against Harmony’s Horizon bridge, Law360 reported. 

Stolen funds either converted to bitcoin, frozen or transferred to crypto wallets, FBI says

Some of the funds allegedly laundered through Railgun have reportedly been converted to bitcoin, according to the FBI, which said other funds have been frozen or transferred between a total of 11 cryptocurrency wallets. 

The U.S. Department of Treasury previously sanctioned virtual currency “mixer” Tornado Cash last August after finding the service was used to launder stolen cryptocurrency, including funds stolen during the Harmony heist. 

The FBI has alleged North Korea steals cryptocurrency in order to help fund government programs revolving around its ballistic missiles and and biological, nuclear and chemical weapons, according to Law360. 

The FBI, along with a pair of other government agencies, warned health care organizations in July  2022 they could be subject to sanctions if they paid ransoms to North Korean hackers in the event of a cyberattack. 

Have you been a victim of cryptocurrency theft? Let us know in the comments.

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