The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has blamed North Korean hackers for the attack last year on the cross-chain bridge provider Harmony. The Harmony Horizon bridge was compromised in June 2022, with hackers making off with $100 million worth of crypto.
The FBI, Reuters and Yonhap reported, blamed “two hacker groups associated with North Korea” for the breach: namely the Lazarus Group and APT38.
And the bureau claimed that on January 13, the groups “used a privacy protocol called Railgun to launder over $60 million” worth of their funds. It claimed that a “portion” of the ethereum (ETH) stolen in the raid “was subsequently sent to several virtual asset providers and converted to bitcoin.”
Railgun is an anonymizing tool that grants certain levels of privacy protection to transactions.
Earlier this month, the head of the crypto exchange Binance claimed the platform had stopped a hacker in their tracks – and had teamed up with rival Huobi as part of a joint effort.
A notable Twitter-based “on-chain sleuth” also spoke of Railgun-related activities on January 15.
And the FBI repeated claims – echoed by intelligence agencies in South Korea and the UN – that the North’s “theft and laundering” of crypto is “used to support its ballistic missile and Weapons of Mass Destruction programs.”
North Korea’s ‘$1.2bn Crypto Hacking Haul’
Multiple private-sector security providers last year claimed to have evidence that Lazarus and other North Korean hackers had mounted the Harmony attack.
Quoting data from the blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, Yonhap noted that a total of $2 billion worth of crypto was stolen in 13 hacks targeting bridges last year.
Harmony develops blockchain networks for decentralized finance (DeFi) players.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service last year claimed that North Korean hackers have stolen some $1.2 billion worth of crypto over the past five years. The NIS added that $78 million of that total was stolen from South Korean targets.