North Korean group Lazarus accused of being involved in the Axie Infinity hack

North Korean group Lazarus accused of being involved in the Axie Infinity hack - timthumbAs interest in digital assets and Web3 continues to grow, opportunities are abundant for cybercriminals.

Governments and regulators in several key crypto jurisdictions have raised concerns about the rise in illegal activity.

Such was the level of scrutiny that the United States launched a new FBI cryptographic unit to tackle cybercrime.

According to recent reports, North Korean and Russian hackers have been the most prolific in crypto-related cybercrime.

North Korean cybercriminals implicated in hacking Axie Infinity

This week, government agencies and Chainalysis confirmed that North Korea's Lazarus group was involved in the Ronin hack. When it comes to cryptocurrency hacks, Ronin's hack is the biggest ever, with cybercriminals walking away with $ 552 million.

In April, FX Empire reported that Axie Infinity's Ronin network was compromised.

Ronin's hack occurred in March, with stolen funds including 173,6k ETH and 25,5m USDC.

Since the March hack, Chainalysis has been working closely with US government agencies to track down missing funds.

This week, the US Treasury Department confirmed the Lazarus Group's involvement in the Ronin hack. Chainalysis noted that the US government has updated its "Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons' List" with an Ethereum address linked to the Lazarus Group.

The Lazarus Group is a North Korean syndicate of cybercriminals

According to North Korean defector Kim Kuk-song, the unit is the 414 Liaison Office in North Korea.

Before the Ronin hack, the $ 450 million Mt Gox hack was the largest cryptocurrency hack.

North Korean cybercriminal syndicates find huge success in cryptocurrencies

In February, news came that North Korea is funding its missile program with stolen cryptocurrencies.

North Korea illegally accumulated more than $ 400 million worth of digital assets last year, according to data from Chainalysis. Cybercriminals have mainly targeted investment firms and centralized exchanges.

The Lazarus Group's involvement in Ronin's hack could dwarf the total reported last year.

With North Korea actively accumulating cryptocurrencies, Russian cybercriminals have also found success in the world of cryptocurrencies.

In February, FX Empire also reported ransomware figures for 2021

Ransomware payments reached $ 692 million in 2020, an upward revision from the $ 350 million estimate. Ransomware payments stood at $ 152 million in 2019 and just $ 39 million in 2018.

Chainalysis currently has plotted $ 602m in ransomware payments in 2021. Based on the 2020 estimate and the latest numbers, the 2021 figure is likely to break the $ 1 billion barrier.

Conti, based in Russia, illicitly amassed at least $ 180 million from ransomware victims in 2021, the biggest haul, with DarkSide coming in second place, with less than $ 100 million.

US President Joe Biden has placed DarkSide in Russia. In May 2021, the US government accused DarkSide of a ransomware attack on the American Colonial Pipeline. The FBI paid a ransom of 75 BTC before recovering 63,7 BTC.

The latest hack will give the White House and government agencies greater impetus to force platforms to tighten their ships and for regulators and government agencies to step up scrutiny of digital assets.