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North Korean Group Behind Sony Hack Linked To $620M Crypto Theft: FBI


The FBI said North Korean hacker groups Lazarus Group and APT38 were responsible for stealing $620 million worth of Ethereum cryptocurrency last month. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is pictured in South Hamgyong province on October 14, 2020.
KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty

An FBI investigation has revealed that the North Korea-linked hacking group responsible for a notorious Sony Pictures hack was behind the theft of more than $600 million in cryptocurrency last month, the FBI said.

Around $620 million worth of Ethereum was stolen late last month following the hack of popular video game Axie Infinity, which uses cryptocurrency-based gaming tokens. The FBI said on Thursday that two groups linked to North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), were responsible, including the Lazarus Group, an entity suspected of being behind the hack. from Sony in 2014.

“The FBI continues to combat malicious cyber activity, including the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the United States and our private sector partners,” the FBI said in a statement. “Through our investigation, we were able to confirm that Lazarus Group and APT38, cyber actors associated with the DPRK, are responsible for the theft of $620 million from Ethereum reported on March 29.”

“The FBI, in coordination with the Treasury and other U.S. government partners, will continue to expose and combat the DPRK’s use of illicit activities – including cybercrime and cryptocurrency theft – to generate income for the regime,” the statement continued.

The Treasury Department also alleged that the Lazarus group was behind the theft by adding the group and a linked Ethereum address to its sanctions list on Thursday. A Tweeter from blockchain data firm Chainalysis alleged that the update confirmed “that the North Korean cybercrime group was behind the March hack”.

A Treasury Department spokesperson told Coindesk that the department’s work with the FBI would have exposed the Lazarus Group’s involvement and demonstrated a “commitment to using all available authorities to disrupt malicious cyber actors and block products.” ill-gotten criminals”.

“There may be mandatory secondary sanction requirements for persons who knowingly, directly or indirectly, engage in money laundering, counterfeiting of property or currency, smuggling of bulk money or trafficking in narcotics that support the government of North Korea or any senior official or person acting for or on behalf of that government,” the spokesperson added.

The theft of Axie Infinity was the biggest cryptocurrency heist of all time, according to a tracker maintained by cybersecurity website Comparitech. Research published by Chainalysis earlier this year found that hackers in North Korea have stepped up their efforts to steal cryptocurrency. The firm found that $400 million worth of cryptocurrency was stolen by hackers based in the country in 2021, a 40% increase from the previous year.

The 2014 Sony Pictures hack revealed confidential studio data, including personal information about employees and their families. The hack was perhaps best known for a demand for Sony to take down its upcoming movie the interviewa comedy about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Pirates threatened to launch attacks on cinemas and moviegoers who dared to see the film, temporarily prompting Sony to cancel its release. The studio then reversed its decision.

Newsweek contacted the DPRK Permanent Mission to the United Nations for comments.




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