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North Korean Hackers Preparing to Cash Out Stolen Cryptocurrency




In recent statements, the FBI has warned cryptocurrency companies about a massive impending liquidation of stolen digital assets. The malicious actors behind these thefts are believed to be affiliated with the North Korea-backed Lazarus Group, also known as APT38 and “TraderTraitor.”

Key Facts:

  • Over the past 24 hours, approximately 1,580 bitcoin — worth over $40 million — has been detected in six crypto wallets believed to be owned by North Korean hackers.
  • This sum includes stolen virtual currency from high-profile hacks such as the compromise of Atomic Wallet in June, leading to a loss of over $100 million.
  • AlphaPo and CoinsPaid also suffered thefts amounting to $60 million and $37 million, respectively, with Lazarus Group being the prime suspect in both breaches.
  • The FBI has shared six Bitcoin addresses associated with the stolen funds, urging crypto organizations to be on guard against transactions with these addresses.
  • The FBI states that North Korea uses cryptocurrency thefts to finance its internationally sanctioned-nuclear weapons program.
  • Recent reports indicate that North Korean hackers have been responsible for stealing almost $2 billion in cryptocurrency since 2018.
  • The U.S. government is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information on members of North Korean state-sponsored threat groups, including Lazarus Group.

Recent Thefts Under the Spotlight

The Lazarus Group has emerged as a dominant player in high-profile cyberattacks targeting cryptocurrency. The hacking spree includes notable breaches such as:

  • The $100 million theft from Harmony’s Horizon Bridge.
  • The massive $625 million crypto theft from the Ronin Network, an Ethereum sidechain associated with the play-to-earn game Axie Infinity.
  • A breach at CoinsPaid resulted from North Korean hackers luring employees with high-paying job offers on LinkedIn, leading them to download malware-laden software.

Call for Industry-wide Vigilance

The FBI is calling on the cryptocurrency community to remain vigilant. The Bureau has advised companies to scrutinize recent blockchain activity and avoid transactions directly or indirectly involving the six shared Bitcoin addresses. These addresses are:

  • 3LU8wRu4ZnXP4UM8Yo6kkTiGHM9BubgyiG
  • 39idqitN9tYNmq3wYanwg3MitFB5TZCjWu
  • 3AAUBbKJorvNhEUFhKnep9YTwmZECxE4Nk
  • 3PjNaSeP8GzLjGeu51JR19Q2Lu8W2Te9oc
  • 3NbdrezMzAVVfXv5MTQJn4hWqKhYCTCJoB
  • 34VXKa5upLWVYMXmgid6bFM4BaQXHxSUoL

Additionally, there has been a collaborative approach in the industry against these cyber threats. Past incidents, like an attempt by Lazarus to move $63 million linked to the Horizon bridge, saw unified action from exchanges and crypto entities to block the transfers.

Implications for the Crypto Industry

The increasing frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks, particularly by state-backed entities, are pressing the cryptocurrency sector to adapt and bolster its defenses. The ramifications of these hacks are multi-fold:

  • Erosion of Trust: With each high-profile theft, potential new entrants into the cryptocurrency space become wary, leading to hesitance in adopting digital currencies and utilizing related platforms.
  • Regulatory Scrutiny: Governments worldwide are likely to leverage these incidents as justification for stricter regulations, which could impact how exchanges operate and how crypto-assets are traded and stored.
  • Financial Impact: Beyond the immediate financial losses from these thefts, such attacks can lead to severe price fluctuations, as traders react to news of breaches and potential liquidations of large volumes of stolen cryptocurrency.


As the threats from state-sponsored hackers grow, calls for enhanced cybersecurity within the crypto space are becoming louder. Leaders like Nikesh Arora, CEO of Palo Alto Networks, have emphasized the need for businesses to reinforce their digital infrastructure. The FBI remains committed to curtailing the illicit endeavors of the DPRK, pledging to combat its cybercrimes and virtual currency thefts that contribute to the regime’s revenue streams. At the time of reporting, the current BTC price stands at $26,018., reflecting a volatile market that has been significantly impacted by cyber threats, geopolitical tensions, and regulatory challenges.