FBI: North Korean Hackers Behind $100M Horizon Bridge Theft

Lazarus Group and APT38, both associated with North Korea, are responsible for the attack in June, the agency concluded.

AccessTimeIconJan 23, 2023 at 11:17 p.m. UTC
Updated Jan 24, 2023 at 7:14 p.m. UTC

A pair of North Korean hacker groups were behind the June theft of $100 million in crypto assets from Horizon Bridge, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said in a Monday statement.

Horizon Bridge, a service enabling crypto assets to be traded between the Harmony blockchain and other blockchains, was drained of ether (ETH), tether (USDT) and wrapped bitcoin (wBTC). The FBI said that the hackers – “cyber actors associated with the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea]” – relied on a malware campaign known as “TraderTraitor” in the Harmony attack.

Two weeks ago, a privacy protocol, Railgun, was used to launder more than $60 million in ETH stolen during last year’s theft, according to the FBI. A portion of it was sent to other service providers and changed to bitcoin. Some of the funds were frozen, and others were moved to addresses identified in the agency’s statement.

At least one industry research firm had already partially come to the same conclusion on the identity of the attackers last year, identifying Lazarus and North Korea.

U.S. authorities said that North Korea’s thefts of crypto and laundering of the assets are used “to support North Korea’s ballistic missile and Weapons of Mass Destruction programs,” according to the statement.

Lazarus Group had previously been accused of stealing more than $600 million of cryptocurrency from the Axie Infinity-linked Ronin bridge.


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Jesse Hamilton

Jesse Hamilton is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for global policy and regulation. He doesn't hold any crypto.