By Elizabeth Howcroft and Raphael Satter
LONDON (Reuters) – Blockchain researchers say North Korea-linked hackers are doubtless behind a $70 million theft from crypto trade CoinEx.
CoinEx, which says it’s primarily based in Hong Kong, mentioned on Tuesday on social media platform X, previously referred to as Twitter, that wallets used to retailer the trade’s crypto property had been hacked. It mentioned on Friday it estimates its losses at $70 million, which it mentioned is a “small portion” of its whole property.
Blockchain analysis agency Elliptic mentioned that “a variety of elements” point out that the Lazarus Group – a hacker group related to North Korea – was accountable for the assault.
CoinEx has not mentioned who it believes was behind the assault, though it has advised Reuters it’s conscious that some safety companies have claimed cyber-espionage groups linked to North Korea had been accountable.
“The hacker’s identification stays below investigation,” CoinEx advised Reuters by way of e mail early on Friday. CoinEx didn’t reply to a Reuters remark request despatched by way of e mail in a while Friday, exterior of Hong Kong hours, about Elliptic’s analysis, which was revealed in a weblog submit.
Elliptic mentioned that a number of the funds stolen from CoinEx had been despatched to a crypto pockets deal with which had beforehand been utilized by the Lazarus Group to launder stolen funds. The funds had been additionally despatched to the Ethereum blockchain utilizing a blockchain “bridge” – a approach of transferring funds between totally different blockchains – which had additionally beforehand been utilized by the Lazarus Group.
North Korea’s mission to the United Nations in New York didn’t reply to a Reuters remark request despatched by way of e mail.
One other blockchain analysis agency, Chainalysis, advised Reuters on Thursday it had “medium-high confidence” that North Korea was behind the assault.
Elliptic mentioned the Lazarus Group “seems to have lately ramped up its operations”, stealing round $240 million price of crypto property in 4 separate assaults for the reason that starting of June, along with the CoinEx assault.
North Korea stepped up its cryptocurrency theft final 12 months, utilizing subtle strategies to steal extra in 2022 than another 12 months, in line with a United Nations report. Sanctions displays have beforehand accused North Korea of utilizing cyberattacks to assist fund its nuclear and missile packages.
North Korea has beforehand denied allegations of hacking or different cyberattacks.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft and Raphael Satter, Enhancing by Louise Heavens)