Hackers possibly linked to North Korea are responsible for the theft of $70 million from cryptocurrency exchange CoinEx, according to blockchain experts. The Hong Kong-based exchange announced on social media platform X that its cryptocurrency wallets had been compromised. The company estimated its loss at $70 million, which it described as a “small portion” of its total assets.
Blockchain research firm Elliptic pointed to several factors that suggest the Lazarus Group, a hacking collective with ties to North Korea, was behind the attack. CoinEx has clearly stated that the identity of the hackers is still under investigation.
Elliptic’s research revealed that some of the stolen money was transferred to the address of a crypto wallet previously used by the Lazarus Group to launder the stolen funds. In addition, these funds were sent to the Ethereum blockchain using a “bridge,” a method of transferring funds between different blockchains that the Lazarus Group has used in the past.
North Korea’s UN mission in New York did not respond to inquiries about the allegations. Meanwhile, another blockchain research firm, Chainalysis, claims with “medium-high certainty” that North Korea is indeed behind the attack.
According to Elliptic, Lazarus Group seems to be more active recently. Since the beginning of June, four separate attacks, including the CoinEx incident, have reportedly stolen around $240 million worth of cryptocurrency.
North Korea stepped up its cryptocurrency theft last year and stole more in 2022 than any other year, according to a UN report. Sanctions watchdogs have accused North Korea of financing its nuclear and missile programs through such cyberattacks, allegations North Korea consistently denies.
Banking Technology 2023
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