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North Korean Hackers Blamed for $35 Million Atomic Wallet Crypto Theft

Researchers believe North Korea-linked Lazarus Group has stolen at least $35 million in cryptocurrency from Atomic Wallet.

Blockchain analytics firm Elliptic believes that the North Korean advanced persistent threat (APT) actor known as Lazarus Group is responsible for the recent theft of cryptocurrency from Atomic Wallet.

A decentralized cryptocurrency wallet service with roughly five million users, Atomic is available on all major operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS.

Atomic initially disclosed the attack on June 3 and announced two days later that less than 1% of its monthly active users had been impacted.

While the crypto wallet service shared little information on the stolen amounts, cryptocurrency security researcher ZachXBT tracked at least $35 million worth of funds drained from the compromised accounts.

After analyzing the transactions originating from the hack, Elliptic is highly confident that the Lazarus Group orchestrated the heist.

The company has observed steps that the hackers have employed to launder the stolen assets and says that they match those seen in previous crypto heists attributed to Lazarus, and that the services used for the laundering, such as the Sinbad mixer, have also been used in past Lazarus hacks.

ZachXBT too pointed out that the laundering patterns seen in this incident are similar to those observed last year in the $600 million heist at Ronin and the $100 million theft at Harmony Horizon Bridge.

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Furthermore, Elliptic believes that the stolen crypto assets might have been stored in wallets that hold the proceeds of past Lazarus attacks.

Atomic says its investigation into the incident is ongoing and is urging victims to contact major exchanges and blockchain analytics firms to trace and block the fraudulent transactions.

The crypto service has yet to share details on how the attackers gained access to user accounts, but it appears that users’ private keys might have been exposed prior to the incident.

North Korean state-sponsored hackers are believed to have orchestrated multiple high-profile cryptocurrency thefts in recent years. Lazarus is said to have stolen more than $1 billion worth of crypto assets over the past two years alone.

Related: FBI Confirms North Korean Hackers Behind $100 Million Horizon Bridge Heist

Related: North Korea’s Lazarus Targets Energy Firms With Three RATs

Related: North Korea APT Lazarus Targeting Chemical Sector

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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