North Korea-linked hackers responsible for US cryptocurrency firm heist, says FBI
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation said this week that a hacker group with ties to North Korea targeted a US cryptocurrency firm in a heist in June last year. The agency said the heist was used to finance Pyongyang’s ongoing ballistic and nuclear missile programs.
The FBI said on Monday that a hacker group with ties to North Korea called the Lazarus Group or APT38 was behind a heist back in June, stealing $100 million from US Cryptocurrency company Harmony’s Horizon Bridge. On January 13, North Korean cyber actors used a privacy protocol known as Railgun to launder over $60 million of Ethereum that was stolen during the June heist, the FBI also said.
The FBI noted that a portion of the Ethereum was then sent to several virtual asset providers and converted to bitcoin. Pyongyang’s theft and laundering of cryptocurrency were then used to fund its ongoing ballistic and nuclear missile programs.
In June 2022, the California-based cryptocurrency firm said a heist targeted its Horizon bridge, the underlying software used by digital tokens like bitcoin and ether for transferring crypto between blockchains.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden nominated a special envoy for human rights in North Korea, the first such appointment since 2017 in the midst of a debate on how human rights issues fit into the efforts to counter Pyongyang’s ongoing weapons development program. Biden nominated Julie Turner, who is currently the director of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Office of East Asia and the Pacific.
Turner is fluent in Korean and has previously worked on North Korean human rights as a special assistant in the envoy’s office, the White House said in a statement announcing Turner’s nomination.
The position, including a similar post in South Korea, was deemed controversial as the previous administrations sought to bring North Korea to the negotiating table. Some activists have raised criticisms that human rights were set aside in favor of national security.
South Korea’s ambassador to North Korean human rights expressed disappointment in 2022 that the Biden administration had yet to appoint its own envoy for human rights in North Korea.