Lazarus Group explored new money laundering options

2020’s biggest hack helped Lazarus Group to explore new money laundering options
  • Lazarus Group has explored a new strategy to launder funds
  • Since 2017 the group has laundered a vast amount of funds in a similar strategy
  • The use of DeFi platforms by the Lazarus Group was observed doubling last year

Lazarus Group, a cybercriminal syndicate, which is working on behalf of the North Korean government. Recently, following an excerpt of Chainalysis research, it is observed that the cybercriminal syndicate is responsible for a number of crypto exchange hacks that took place to date. The group was also included in 2019’s UpBit hack, which trapped around more than $49 million worth of digital currencies. Several experts believe that proceeds from the evil group go towards North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Lazarus Group used a specific money laundering strategy

Following last year’s KuCoin hack, the Chainalysis group specified that the Lazarus Group hackers used a similar strategy to launder money. Such a strategy was also used in the past. According to Chainalysis, the method involves sending the illicit amount to mixers in a same size structured payments. Such an amount can be a round off number in Bitcoin, which could be higher or lower depending on the size of the amount to be stolen. The cybercriminal syndicate waits for each transaction to be confirmed by the mixer before sending a new one. Such a strategy allows the group to minimize losses in the event the mixer fails. Indeed, once the funds are mixed, the evil actors typically transfer the funds to over-the-counter brokers on one of some exchanges.

Is the group culprit of all such attacks?

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In the case of KuCoin, the unlawful players utilize the same strategy for portions of the funds stolen. On the other side, two deposit addresses to which Lazarus Group sent stolen cryptos this year also received funds laundered in the Harvest Finance hack. The funds led to speculation that the syndicate only had carried out the attack.

Last year Chainalysis observed that the use of DeFi platforms by the group was doubled. On the other, the use of mainstream crypto assets exchanges by Lazarus Group declined. Among the laundered funds by the group in 2019, the majority went to the mixers last year. Such activity could result from the increased security efforts by the exchanges following the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) civil complaint in August. The complaint reported how Lazarus Group hackers frequently moved laundered amounts through exchanges and OTC brokers using addresses traced at digital assets exchanges.

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Ahtesham Anis
Ahtesham Anis is a Computer Science undergrad student currently based out of India. Coming from the business background and his keen interest in Cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology is what Ahtesham brings to the table. He is always an eager learner when it comes to exploring the new technologies and topics in the crypto world.

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