An infamous North Korean state-sponsored hacker group, Lazarus, made off with about $41 million worth of cryptocurrencies. The Lazarus Group successfully pilfered the cash from Stake.com, an online betting company known for its reliance on crypto payment methods.
According to the FBI, the hacker group has stolen over $200 million this year from different groups. In their latest attack, Lazarus Group moved $41 million in Ethereum, BSC (Binance Smart Chain), and Polygon. The money was transferred to 33 different crypto addresses.
Stake, Alphapo, CoinsPaid & Atomic All Fell Victim
The FBI identified the Lazarus Group as the entity behind several hacks that target betting firms, leading online casinos, and other prominent organizations. In 2019, the group was sanctioned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, which is under the US Department of Treasury.
The sanction came after Lazarus Group was identified behind several high-profile international cryptocurrency heists. According to the feds, the group stole at least $200 million worth of crypto in 2023 alone.
Their wave of heists included a $60 million swipe from Alphapo and CoinsPaid in June. Alphapo is a reputable centralized cryptocurrency payment provider that serves gambling sites. The group also stole funds from CoinsPaid, a popular cryptocurrency exchange platform in Estonia.
The FBI also reported that the North Korean hackers had pilfered $100 million from Atomic Cryptocurrency Wallet in June. Investigations into the crypto heists have revealed that the hacking group swipes crypto to generate cash on behalf of the impoverished North Korean regime.
In the recent hack, the Lazarus Group moved $16 million in Ether, USDT, DAI, USDC and other stablecoins. They followed it with a $25 million withdrawal using BNB tokens and MATIC. All $41 million was tracked to cryptocurrency addresses in North Korea.
Stake.com’s cofounder, Edward Craven, labeled the recent cyberattack by Lazarus Group a “sophisticated breach.” Craven maintained that the attack did not materially affect Stake’s operations, although representatives of the brand have yet to comment on the situation.
Hacking To Fund Nuclear Power
The US government said that the cash moved from Stake, Aphapo, CoinsPaid, Atomic, and such companies partly go to funding nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Earlier this week, the FBI promised to continue to expose the illicit activities North Korea uses to generate revenue for the regime.
Cybercrime and crypto theft have become rampant over the last few years. The recent crypto theft comes on the back of ransomware attacks seen at MGM and Caesars. Online casinos and sportsbooks are among the top targets, but hackers can attack any high-profile organization.
Money officials are worried the stolen funds are being used to bolster North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The country is expected to forge an arms deal with Russia and needs funds for facilitation. According to the FBI, the $41 million moved from Stake.com was tracked back to North Korea.
The Lazarus Group has moved billions of dollars from crypto businesses into the North Korean regime. According to Chainalysis, a blockchain analytics company, the group swiped around $3.6 billion in 2022 alone. Their activities have only scaled up since then.
Cyberattacks from North Korea have coincided with an acceleration in the regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile program. The US government had previously warned about North Korea’s shipping of rockets and artillery shells to Russia ahead of the expected bilateral cooperation.
Stake Halt Transactions as Feds Call for Vigilance
After the recent beach, online betting and casino firm Stake.com was forced to halt deposits and withdrawals. The halt was brief to enable a comprehensive assessment of the breach. No user accounts or transactions were compromised, so Stake reinstated operations shortly after.
The FBI has advised punters to remain vigilant and guard against transactions with or from the identified North Korean addresses. Meanwhile, the White House has warned North Korea, saying it will “pay a price” if the regime moves forward with its arms deal with Russia.