The recent hack of over $27 million on the cryptocurrency exchange CoinEx has sent shockwaves through the industry. The attack was recently attributed to the notorious North Korean Lazarus Group, as reported by the blockchain security firm SlowMist on September 13. This revelation sheds light on the increasing threat posed by state-backed actors in the crypto space.
Connection to Previous Hacks
The findings by SlowMist were independently corroborated by ZachXBT, a prominent on-chain investigator. ZachXBT discovered that the Lazarus Group inadvertently linked their address to the $41 million Stake hack on Optimism and Polygon. This connection between the CoinEx hack and previous exploits further solidifies the involvement of the North Korean hackers.
SlowMist explained their methodology in arriving at this conclusion. They analyzed the addresses involved in the previous Stake and Alphapo hacks and discovered a clear interaction with the addresses associated with the CoinEx hack. This evidence left little doubt about the involvement of the Lazarus Group.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently linked the $41 million exploit of the crypto gambling site Stake to the North Korean state-backed actors. This connection confirms the growing trend of North Korean hackers targeting crypto assets. According to the FBI, these hackers have already stolen over $200 million from various crypto projects, including Atomic Wallet and Alphapo. The CoinEx hack is just the latest in this series of sophisticated attacks.
CoinEx, following the exploit on September 12, confirmed that it had been targeted for an undisclosed sum. The attack resulted in substantial losses, estimated at over $27 million, spanning multiple cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Tron, and other ERC-20 tokens. The exchange has been working relentlessly to track down the hackers’ addresses and recover the stolen funds.
North Korea’s Role and Denials
North Korea has increasingly relied on illicit cryptocurrency activities to finance its weapons program, despite facing economic sanctions from Western countries and their allies. The country has consistently denied sponsoring hackers, despite overwhelming evidence presented by organizations like the United Nations. This pattern of behavior raises concerns about North Korea’s ability to operate with impunity in the global crypto landscape.
South Korea’s Countermeasures
In response to these alarming developments, South Korea has taken a proactive stance. The country is working on legislation that will empower authorities to track and freeze crypto assets stolen by North Korea for its illicit program. This step demonstrates South Korea’s commitment to addressing the growing threat posed by state-backed actors.
The revelation that the North Korean Lazarus Group was behind the CoinEx hack sends a chilling message to the cryptocurrency community. It highlights the urgent need for improved security measures and international cooperation to combat state-sponsored cyberattacks. As the value of cryptocurrencies continues to rise, so does the allure for malicious actors seeking to exploit vulnerabilities. Only by remaining vigilant and implementing robust safeguards can the industry hope to thwart such attacks in the future.