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HomeLaw & PoliticsNorth Korean Lazarus Group Launders $147M Stolen Crypto, Reveals UN Report

North Korean Lazarus Group Launders $147M Stolen Crypto, Reveals UN Report

The Lazarus Group, a notorious North Korean hacking collective, is implicated in a major international cryptocurrency laundering operation, as revealed in a confidential United Nations report.

The report uncovers that The Lazarus Group has been funneling stolen cryptocurrency worth approximately $147.5 million through Tornado Cash, a cryptocurrency mixer that was sanctioned in 2021. This mixer was used to launder funds from one of the biggest crypto heists in history, targeting the HTX exchange in March 2023. The incident involved substantial amounts of cryptocurrency stolen and subsequently laundered, contributing to North Korea’s financing.

The findings are detailed in a UN report recently presented to a Security Council sanctions committee. The Lazarus Group’s criminal activities highlighted in the report span from 2017 to 2024, with an increase in attacks noted in 2023, despite a downturn in the cryptocurrency market.

The cyber attacks orchestrated by the Lazarus Group targeted cryptocurrency firms worldwide, funneling stolen assets back to North Korea. The laundering process primarily involved Tornado Cash, a platform that operates globally but has faced significant scrutiny and sanctions from U.S. authorities.

According to the report, The Lazarus Group utilized sophisticated cyberattack strategies to infiltrate cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet providers, stealing assets which were then laundered through Tornado Cash to obscure their origin. This method not only facilitated the transfer of substantial funds to North Korea but also highlighted significant vulnerabilities in global cybersecurity and financial systems.

North Korea has increasingly relied on cybercrime as a crucial source of foreign currency, with its hackers becoming highly skilled at exploiting the security weaknesses of financial and technological infrastructures worldwide. The United Nations and other international bodies, recognizing the severe threat posed by these activities, are intensifying efforts to trace and recover stolen assets and enforce stricter security measures to prevent further incidents. The ongoing challenge remains the sophisticated nature and global reach of North Korean state-sponsored cybercriminal activities, which continue to threaten international financial stability and security.

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