Lazarus Group’s crypto holdings worth $900 mln spark concerns
- Lazarus Group, a North Korean cybercrime unit, amassed substantial cryptocurrency holdings.
- The group’s history includes major cyberattacks and heists in the cryptocurrency space.
In the highly volatile landscape of cryptocurrencies, the actions of prominent entities can exert substantial influence on market dynamics. One such formidable entity, the Lazarus Group, a cyber hacking organization hailing from North Korea (DPRK), managed to amass significant holdings.
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Will Lazarus HODL?
The Lazarus Group, which incurred sanctions from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in the preceding year, has a history steeped in cryptocurrency-related cyberattacks.
According to data from Dune Analytics, their exploits resulted in the pilfering of at least a staggering $900 million across various cryptocurrency-related heists.
One particularly noteworthy incident unfolded on 4 September, which coincided with the Stake hack. On this eventful day, the Lazarus Group registered an influx of funds amounting to approximately $40 million, with substantial allocations channeled into Binance Coin [BNB], Ethereum [ETH], and Bitcoin [BTC].
North Korean cybercrime unit Lazarus Group, sanctioned by OFAC last year, has been responsible for stealing at least $900 million in crypto-related hacks ? Let’s dive into the most relevant metrics.
— 21.co (@21co__) September 18, 2023
The transaction patterns meticulously employed by the Lazarus Group remained remarkably consistent with their modus operandi in prior operations.
Swiftly converting their crypto assets into Bitcoin and Ethereum, they have been known to dispatch substantial sums through mixing services, a foundational element in their sophisticated money laundering apparatus.
As of the present moment, the Lazarus Group’s cryptocurrency portfolio is anchored by three major digital assets:
- BTC: 57% of holdings
- ETH: 24% of holdings
- BNB: 18% of holdings
Notably, on August 22, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a stern warning regarding the movement of approximately 1,580 BTC linked to the group, thereby sounding the alarm for a possible cash-out attempt involving this substantial sum.
How are the currencies holding up?
While the enormous supply of Bitcoin and Ethereum offers a degree of resilience against potential selling pressure, the prospect of the Lazarus Group offloading its holdings holds the potential to significantly tilt market sentiment in an adverse direction.
Notably, Bitcoin’s price, at the time of writing, stands at $26,600, having witnessed an upward trajectory in recent days.
This notable surge may be attributed, at least in part, to heightened interest exhibited by cryptocurrency whales. Glassnode’s data revealed that addresses that held more than 1 Bitcoin reached a new all-time-high.
Nevertheless, it is Binance Coin that looms as the most susceptible to the plausible selling pressure emanating from the Lazarus Group.
Binance, the preeminent cryptocurrency exchange underpinning BNB, has grappled with legal entanglements and a series of layoffs, challenges that could conceivably cast a shadow over sentiment pertaining to the token.
CoinEx makes progress
The Lazarus Group’s proclivity for launching cyberattacks on the cryptocurrency ecosystem spans an extensive chronicle of nefarious exploits. Recent data showcased the group’s involvement in the CoinEx exchange hack.
Moreover, cybersecurity firm SlowMist indicated potential ties to the Lazarus Group.
CoinEx, in response to the hack, initiated a comprehensive strategy that emphasized paramount security and unwavering transparency. They unequivocally refuted any claims of resumed withdrawal services as spurious and cautioned users against engaging with such deceptive messages.
CoinEx diligently reassured users of the absolute security and integrity of their assets. They also stated their commitment to prioritizing security over the reactivation of withdrawal functionalities.
#CoinExResponseUpdate – CoinEx Team Work Progress Update on September 18th
(Details in threads)
Caution: Any claims stating that CoinEx has resumed withdrawal services are false & scam-related. Please report such messages to us & don't engage in these communications. pic.twitter.com/5pmlZgrGIU
— CoinEx Global (@coinexcom) September 18, 2023
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Beyond the CoinEx incident, the Lazarus Group’s rap sheet boasts a recurring pattern of criminal activities. Preceding their focus on Stake, they orchestrated a $60 million heist, targeting crypto payment providers Alphapo and CoinsPaid.
In June, they executed their magnum opus of the year, siphoning off a staggering $100 million from yet another wallet provider, Atomic Wallet. Furthermore, the Lazarus Group infiltrated an American IT firm named JumpCloud, as detailed in a Reuters report.