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North Korean hackers use Tornado Cash to launder stolen cryptocurrency | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


2024-05-20 07:31:40 ET

A confidential United Nations report recently revealed that the

North Korean

hacking group,

The Lazarus Group

, has been transferring thousands of stolen cryptocurrencies back to North Korea.

The cybercriminals funneled $147.5 million worth of crypto through

Tornado Cash

, a mixer sanctioned in 2021.

The Lazarus Group is linked to one of the largest heists of March 2023, from crypto exchange HTX, led by TRON’s founder Justin Sun.

The stolen funds were laundered through Tornado Cash, a mixer praised for its privacy-focused features but also criticized for its exploitable design that facilitates crimes.

UN investigation findings

According to the United Nations report presented to a security council sanctions committee, a broader investigation is underway concerning 97 suspected North Korean cyberattacks on crypto firms between 2017 and 2024, resulting in over $3 billion stolen.

The study reveals that North Korea has significant cyber warfare capabilities and relies on cybercrime as a crucial source of foreign exchange.

The role of Tornado Cash

Tornado Cash has been a favored tool for North Korean hackers, providing a way to launder stolen cryptocurrency.

In 2022, the US sanctioned Tornado Cash, accusing it of facilitating money laundering for North Korea.

In 2023, two co-founders of the mixer were charged with aiding over $1 billion in money laundering activities, including those linked to North Korean cybercriminals.

North Korea’s expanding cyber attacks

North Korea has increasingly targeted cryptocurrency platforms, expanding its reach in 2023 with a record number of 20 hacks, despite a downturn in the crypto market.

According to Chainalysis, these hacks brought in over $1 billion, with $429 million stolen from DeFi platforms and significant amounts from centralized services, exchanges, and wallet providers.

This series of events underscores North Korea’s sophisticated cyber capabilities and the ongoing challenge of securing cryptocurrency platforms against state-sponsored cyber threats.

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North Korean hackers use Tornado Cash to launder stolen cryptocurrency

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