Bitcoin and Ethereum: North Korea the number 1 crypto enemy?

Persona non grata – The decentralized finance, driven by multi-billion dollar transaction volumes, is attracting covetousness. Blockchain and the funds it attracts whet the appetite of hackers. Sometimes siphoned off, sometimes just flayed, crypto protocols have become prime targets. So much so that American regulation seems to have web pirates in the sights. In the fight against this cybercrime, North Korea is designated as the number 1 digital enemy. Let’s decrypt.

North Korea in the sights of the crypto gendarmes

the Hack from Axie Infinity last March allowed US regulators to confirm what they were saying at the very beginning of 2022: North Korea is a crypto danger. Indeed, these state hackers risk setting the blockchain on fire. The US Treasury Department wants in this fight to increase its efforts to block the $620 million crypto treasure of Axie Infinity hackers.

While the purported purpose is to increase privacy, blenders like Blender are commonly used by illicit actors. Blender has helped transfer over $500 million worth of Bitcoin since its inception in 2017 and (…) used in the laundering process for the DPRK’s Axie Infinity heist, processing over $20.5 million”

Treasury release.

In this dynamic, OFAC, theOffice of Foreign Assets Controlsanctions Blender, crypto mixing service linked to North Korea and blacklists new Bitcoin and Ethereum addresses. As a reminder, so-called mixing services make it possible to hide the origin and destination of a transaction. In doing so, it becomes impossible for investigators to trace the addresses of hackers.

This list, recently updated, lists 46 Bitcoin addresses and 12 Ethereum addresses. It is then 20.5 million dollars, stolen from Ronin Network, which would have been laundered. By blacking out Blender addresses, OFAC wants to prevent North Korea from exploiting the global financial system.

Lazarus, group of North Korean hackers would be responsible for the hack of Axie Infinity

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Crypto mixing services in full storm?

According to the US Treasury, Blender is involved in numerous ransomware attacks. We call Ransomwarea malicious computer program taking hostage a website, confidential documents, or even a crypto platform, in order to demand a ransom in exchange.

However, this is not the first time that addresses have been blocked by blockchain police. This is, however, the first time a crypto mixing service has been added to an OFAC sanctions list.

“Today, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned virtual currency blender Blender (Blender). It is used by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to support its malicious cyber activists.

For now only, Blender has been sanctioned. However, other services are in the sights of OFAC. Tornado Cash for example is on an ejection seat. Indeed, analyzes of stolen transaction tracking show that more than 21,000 ETH was laundered on Tornado Cash.

The Treasury remains clear in its declarations. ” Virtual currency mixers that help criminals have no place in the global economy. Indeed, according to the American regulator, they constitute a threat to national security. North Korea and its regular hacking attempts may only become a pretext for weaken anonymity and decentralization more generally.

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