Hackers linked to North Korea are behind the theft of $70 million from crypto exchange CoinEx, blockchain researchers say.
CoinEx, which says it is based in Hong Kong, said on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday that the wallets used to store the exchange’s crypto assets. were hacked. It said Friday that its losses were estimated at $70 million, a “small fraction” of its total assets.
Blockchain research firm Elliptic said “multiple factors” suggest that the Lazarus Group – a hacker group linked to North Korea – was responsible for the attack.
CoinEx has not said who it believes was behind the attack, although it has told Reuters it is aware that some security firms have claimed cyber espionage teams linked to North Korea were responsible. were
“The identity of the hacker is still under investigation,” CoinEx told Reuters by email early Friday. CoinEx did not respond to a Reuters request for comment sent by email later on Friday, outside Hong Kong hours, about Elliptic’s research, which was published in a blog post.
Elliptic said some of the funds stolen from CoinEx were sent to a crypto wallet address previously used by Lazarus Group to launder the stolen funds. Funds were also sent to the Ethereum blockchain using a blockchain “bridge” – a method of transferring funds between different blockchains – previously used by the Lazarus Group.
North Korea’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not respond to an emailed request for comment from Reuters.
Another blockchain research firm, Chainalysis, told Reuters on Thursday it had “moderate confidence” that North Korea was behind the attack.
Elliptic said the Lazarus Group has “recently stepped up its operations,” stealing about $240 million worth of crypto assets in four separate attacks since early June in addition to the CoinEx attack.
North Korea ramped up its cryptocurrency theft last year, using sophisticated techniques to steal more in 2022 than any other year, according to a United Nations report. Sanctions watchdogs have previously accused North Korea of using cyber attacks to fund its nuclear and missile programs.
North Korea has previously denied allegations of hacking or other cyber attacks.