FBI says North Korea-related hacker group behind US crypto firm heist

Last June, $100 million was stolen from US crypto firm Harmony's Horizon bridge

By Reuters

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An FBI seal is seen on a wall. — AP file
An FBI seal is seen on a wall. — AP file

Published: Tue 24 Jan 2023, 8:16 PM

A hacker group associated with North Korea, the Lazarus Group, also known as APT38, was responsible for the theft last June of $100 million from US crypto firm Harmony's Horizon bridge, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Monday.

On January 13, North Korean cyber actors used a privacy protocol called Railgun to launder over $60 million worth of ethereum stolen during the theft in June, the FBI said in a statement.

A portion of the stolen ethereum was subsequently sent to several virtual asset providers and converted to bitcoin, the FBI said.

The FBI said North Korea's theft and laundering of virtual currency is used to support its ballistic missile and Weapons of Mass Destruction programmes.

In June last year, California-based Harmony said that a heist had hit its Horizon bridge, which was the underlying software used by digital tokens such as bitcoin and ether for transferring crypto between different blockchains.

Reuters in June reported that North Korean hackers were most likely behind the attack on Harmony, citing three digital investigative firms.

Harmony develops blockchains for decentralised finance — peer-to-peer sites that offer loans and other services without traditional gatekeepers such as banks — and non-fungible tokens.

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