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Lazarus Group Rampage: Over $240 Million Stolen in Recent Cryptocurrency Heists

Jaleel Mwangi



The Lazarus Group, affiliated with North Korea, has reportedly stolen nearly $240 million in cryptocurrency since June 2023. The group has been tied to a series of attacks, including:

  • CoinEx: $31 million
  • Atomic Wallet: $100 million
  • CoinsPaid: $37.3 million
  • Alphapo: $60 million
  • $41 million 

Elliptic, a blockchain analytics firm, has detailed how stolen funds from CoinEx were linked back to the Lazarus group. They highlighted the group’s shift from decentralized services to centralized ones. The hackers utilize social engineering tactics, including impersonating recruiters on platforms like LinkedIn to deploy malware.

North Korea’s Digital Offensive

  • The Lazarus Group, which has existed since 2007, has stolen an estimated $3.4 billion in crypto over the years.
  • This includes significant hacks such as the WannaCry ransomware attack and the Harmony’s Horizon bridge hack.
  • Their most cunning tactics involve leveraging recruitment platforms:
  1. In the 2019 Operation In(ter)ception, the group preyed upon military and aerospace companies, tricking employees through fake job ads on LinkedIn.
  2. CoinsPaid was targeted over a six-month campaign where they sent fake job offers, launched Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks, and used brute forcing.
  3. The group is notorious for exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities and deploying malware.

The Bigger Picture: North Korea’s Strategy

Lazarus Group’s activities are believed to financially support the North Korean regime, bypassing international sanctions. Cryptocurrency heists have provided funds for weapons programs and other state-sponsored initiatives. North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, recently visited Russia, allegedly discussing an arms deal. Meanwhile, short-range ballistic missiles were launched by the nation. Aside from hacking, North Korea generates revenue by employing freelance IT workers abroad using fraudulent identification.

Human Error and Social Engineering

  • The Lazarus Group, responsible for disrupting critical services globally, has also been tied to the theft of 3,831 Bitcoin from the South Korean crypto exchange Yapizon in 2017.
  • The FBI attributed Lazarus to several high-profile hacks in 2023, with losses totaling over $200 million.
  • Among them was the spear-phishing attack against Stake, resulting in a $41 million heist.
  • Contrary to popular belief, many hacks are carried out not through brute force but by exploiting human error and curiosity:
  1. Hackers often impersonate trusted entities, like customer support representatives or IT professionals, to extract sensitive information.
  2. Phishing remains one of the top methods, with attackers sending deceptive emails to victims, leading them to fraudulent websites.
  3. Baiting attacks, another tactic, lure victims with enticing offers, only to deploy malware.

Protecting Against Threats

  • As cryptocurrency users remain vulnerable to these sophisticated attacks, it’s paramount to understand and be cautious of the current threats.
  • Users must be wary of unsolicited offers, too-good-to-be-true job opportunities, and unexpected emails or messages from unknown sources. Always verify the authenticity of communication, especially when personal or financial details are involved.

Enhancing Cybersecurity Measures

  • Education and Training: One of the foremost strategies is to regularly educate employees and cryptocurrency users about emerging threats. Regular training sessions can help individuals recognize phishing attempts, suspicious links, and fraudulent communication.
  • Multifactor Authentication: Implementing multifactor authentication (MFA) provides an added layer of security. Even if a hacker obtains login credentials, the MFA can prevent unauthorized access.
  • Regular Software Updates: Keeping software, especially security software, updated can fend off many common cyber threats. This includes updating operating systems, browsers, and other key software.
  • Backup Regularly: Ensuring that data is backed up regularly can prevent loss in case of a ransomware attack. Cloud-based backups, when encrypted, offer a reliable solution.
  • Limit Access: Not every employee needs access to all company data. By limiting access based on job roles, potential breaches can be contained.


The ongoing hacking spree by North Korea’s Lazarus Group poses a significant threat to individuals and organizations involved in the cryptocurrency space. As the tactics evolve and grow more sophisticated, stakeholders must stay informed and exercise caution to safeguard their digital assets. Awareness and vigilance are currently the best defense against these malicious actors. Understanding the modus operandi of these hacking groups, especially one as potent as the Lazarus Group, is imperative for crafting robust cybersecurity measures.

Jaleel is a sociable and communicative individual who effortlessly builds connections with others. With a strong belief in lending a helping hand, he is always ready to support those in need. Alongside his affinity for new technology, especially smartphones, Jaleel finds pleasure in exploring the latest advancements. When it comes to leisure, he cherishes vacations and finds joy in watching comedic films. With his friendly nature and diverse interests, Jaleel brings positive energy to every interaction and embraces life's enjoyable moments.