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North Korean hackers suspected of stealing $100 million crypto from US firm

Updated: Jul 13

The Lazarus Group is suspected of being behind the recent $100 million cryptocurrency theft from US company Harmony's Horizon Bridge, a cross-chain bridge company that allows users to transfer cryptocurrencies between different blockchains, according to analytics firm Elliptic. The state-sponsored Lazarus Group of North Korea has been linked to major cyberattacks such as the Sony Pictures hack and the WannaCry ransomware attack. Hackers most likely compromised a multi-signature wallet at Harmony through social engineering attacks on the team members. Elliptic reported that the Lazarus Group also focuses on targets in the Asia-Pacific region, with language being one of the main reasons.

It added that the group's activities are "very similar" to those of other attacks associated with it. Harmony announced on Wednesday that a global manhunt for the criminals had begun. US law enforcement, together with Chainalysis and AnChain (the company's partners) are investigating to identify the individuals responsible for the cybercrime and recover the stolen assets. Hackers stole nearly $400 million in digital assets last year, according to a report. North Korean state-sponsored cryptocurrency theft has been identified as a critical component of the country's illicit financing activities to support its nuclear and missile programs. According to Chainalysis, North Korea's GDP is estimated to have earned nearly $1.6 billion from crypto crimes between 2017 and 2022.

The risks of a sector that is so unregulated that rogue governments can use crime to finance their operations may cast a negative light on the entire crypto economy. This is why regulating this sector with smart set of laws could beneficial - it would hold digital financial organizations to a high enough level to prevent losses from occurring, somewhat equivalent to bank robberies or fraud in legacy finance.

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