North Korea Accused of Carrying Out the Ronin Crypto Heist
North Korea is once again in the loop. Last week, Virgil Griffith, the former developer at the Ethereum Foundation, was arrested and fined for attending a blockchain conference in Pyongyang in 2019, where he explained how the country could avoid international sanctions.
Now, the internationally ostracized state is being blamed for carrying out one of the biggest crypto heists to date: the Ronin network hack that resulted in a loss of over $600 million in cryptocurrency.
According to the US Treasury Department, the North Korean hacking group Lazarus is behind the attack. The agency has already updated sanctions to include the wallet address that received the funds, amounting to $445 million (148,000 Ethereum), and sent almost $10 million (3,302.6 ETH) to another address less than a day ago.
According to crypto transaction tracker Etherscan, the address is “reported to be involved in a hack targeting the Ronin bridge.”
While the Ronin network, which supports the wildly popular Axie Infinity video game, confirms that the authorities have identified the culprits, it also says: “We are still in the process of adding additional security measures before redeploying the Ronin Bridge to mitigate future risk. Expect the bridge to be deployed by the end of the month. Security comes first. The timeline is subject to change based on the implementation time of several security measures.”
Lazarus group became notorious in 2014 after hacking Sony Pictures, leaking The Interview, a comedy that ridicules the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. It also launched malware and ransomware that helped hackers steal millions from ATMs across Asia and Africa.
North Korea allegedly uses cryptocurrency to fund its military and nuclear ambitions. The country, which is living in a bubble and is alienated from the rest of the world, maintains ties mostly with neighboring China and Russia.
Although the Ronin heist took place on March 23, causing a loss of 173,600 Ethereum and 25.5M USDC worth almost $600 million on the Ronin bridge in two transactions, it was only discovered on March 29.
Other big hacks include Wormhole, Poly Network, Coincheck, and Mt Gox.