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U.S. reverse-hacks cryptocurrencies stolen by N. Korea

Posted February. 04, 2023 08:01,   

Updated February. 04, 2023 08:01


It has been reported that the U.S. recovered over half of the cryptocurrency, estimated to be worth over 1 trillion won, stolen by North Korea through hacking last year. This was achieved through rigorous tracking and investigation of hacker organizations linked to North Korea. The Biden administration is believed to have identified "Lazarus" as the central group among these organizations and has placed more than 10 organizations under close monitoring and sanctions.

According to multiple government sources on Friday, the U.S. has recovered significantly by freezing funds in cryptocurrency exchange wallets (accounts) associated with North Korean hackers. The U.S. has a practice of creating a "blacklist" by tracing the wallets involved whenever there is a large-scale attack by a North Korean hacking organization.

The Biden administration has taken strong action against "mixer companies" specializing in money laundering by freezing assets in the U.S. and prohibiting transactions. The U.S. government used the "white hacking" method to retrieve the stolen cryptocurrency, which involved reversing the hack on the cryptocurrency exchange wallet of a North Korean-linked hacker who had successfully carried out an attack. “The white hacking method against North Korean hackers is unusual,” said a source. “It means that the U.S. recognized North Korea's cryptocurrency theft as a threat and took a higher level of response.”

Another source said, “The Biden administration, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the State Department, has taken a government-wide approach to responding to North Korean cybercrime. More than 10 organizations, including Lazarus, are believed to have been on the main watchlist.” Lazarus, which is believed to be linked to North Korea's Reconnaissance General Bureau, is subject to U.S. and UN sanctions.

Chainalysis, a New York-based blockchain analysis firm, announced that North Korean-linked hacker groups, including Lazarus, stole 1.65 billion dollars in cryptocurrency last year. The report says this accounts for 43% of the total 3.8 billion dollars in cryptocurrencies stolen worldwide in the same year.

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