Binance, Huobi Freeze Crypto worth $1.4M from North Korean Hackers
Following an intelligence tip-off from the blockchain company Elliptic, crypto exchanges Binance and Huobi have frozen another round of cryptocurrency worth $1.4 million from the North Korean hackers as per a new report.
Exchanges @binance and @HuobiGlobal today froze accounts containing $1.4 million stolen by North Korea’s Lazarus Group. This was made possible thanks to intel from Elliptic’s real-time investigations tools and a swift response by the receiving exchanges.https://t.co/f5bVpm8yfH
— elliptic (@elliptic) February 14, 2023
It was gathered that the North-Korean based hacker Lazarus Group adopted several privacy mixers to ensure the anonymity of the stolen funds but it failed gallantly.
According to the Elliptic report, Binance and Huobi were alerted based on its intelligence gathering that the hacker was attempting to withdraw $1.4M out of the $100 million funds stolen from Harmony’s Horizon Bridge.
Their swift reactions led to the incarceration of the funds. Although Elliptic did not disclose the coins or tokens that were frozen.
The statement partly reads:
“The stolen funds remained dormant until recently when our investigators began to see them funnelled through complex chains of transactions, to exchanges. By promptly notifying these platforms about these illicit deposits, they were able to suspend these accounts and freeze funds.”
It is noteworthy that the notorious Lazarus Group has resorted to the use of the United States OFAC-sanctioned privacy mixer Tornado Cash in an attempt to avert the trailing of the transaction.
While the privacy mixer Tornado Cash enables hackers to cash out funds at an exchange without uncovering their identities, Elliptic investigators were able to uncover the roots of the stolen funds and subsequently alerted the exchanges.
In light of the development, Elliptic CEO Simone Maini remarked that the latest action signalled that the industry was committed to preventing money laundering and refusing the use of crypto as a haven for illicit activity.
Harmony’s Horizon Bridge Hacker on Rampage
So far, the Harmony Bridge hackers identified as the North Korea-based Lazarus Group have made several successful withdrawals. On January 16, Lazarus Group withdrew USD 64 million over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Binance and Huobi subsequently recovered $2.5 million from Harmony one hackers.
While parts of the stolen funds are yet to be uncovered, blockchain intelligence and exchanges should do more. The efforts by the Elliptic firm are undoubtedly commendable.