Experts blame North Korea for USD 100 million cryptocurrency theft

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North Korean hackers are suspected to be behind a cyberattack that resulted in theft of as much as USD 100 million in cryptocurrency from a US company last week. Three digital investigative firms have made the conclusion.

The cryptoassets were stolen on June 23 from Horizon Bridge, a service operated by the Harmony blockchain that allows assets to be transferred to other blockchains.

The activity by hackers since then suggests that they may be linked to North Korea. Experts say that North Korea is among the most prolific cyber attackers.  UN sanctions monitors says Pyongyang uses the stolen funds to support its nuclear and missile programmes.

The style of attack and high velocity of structured payments to a mixer – used to obscure the origin of funds – is similar to previous attacks that were attributed to North Korea-linked actors, Chainalysis, a blockchain firm working with Harmony to investigate the attack, said on Twitter on Tuesday.

That conclusion was echoed by other investigators.

“Preliminarily this looks like a North Korean hack based on transaction behaviour,” said Nick Carlsen, a former FBI analyst who now investigates North Korea’s cryptocurrency heists for TRM Labs, a U.S.-based firm.

There is a strong possibility that North Korea’s Lazarus Group may be responsible for the theft. The conclusion has been based on the nature of the hack and subsequent laundering of the funds.

(With inputs from agencies)

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