Crypto researchers believe that North Korean state-backed hackers are likely responsible for a recent hack on Atomic Wallet customers, resulting in millions of dollars in estimated losses.
Estonia-based Atomic Wallet is a non-custodial decentralized wallet, which means that users are responsible for the assets they store.
The company, which supports over 500 coins and tokens, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, claims to have more than five million users of its software worldwide. Blockchain analysis firm Elliptic said this week that it believes with “high confidence” that the Lazarus Group, a North Korean-backed hacking group, is responsible for the Atomic Wallet hacks.
Elliptic’s analysis of the hack found that the laundering of the stolen crypto assets followed “a series of steps that exactly match those employed to launder the proceeds of past hacks perpetrated by Lazarus Group.”
In May 2022, the U. S. Treasury sanctioned Blender.io, warning that the service was being used by North Korea to “support its malicious cyber activities and money-laundering of stolen virtual currency.”
Treasury officials said at the time that the Lazarus Group used the mixer to launder more than $20 million worth of the $625 million in cryptocurrency it stole from the Ronin Network, an Ethereum-based sidechain made for the popular play-to-earn game Axie Infinity.
The extent of Atomic’s compromise is still unknown, and it is unclear whether affected users will be compensated. The company stated in its most recent update that it is “committed to assisting as many victims of the recent exploit as possible” and has contracted third parties to help “trace stolen funds and liaise with exchanges and authorities.”
In May, U. S. officials imposed new sanctions on North Korea in connection with its army of illicit IT workers, who have fraudulently gained employment to finance the regime’s weapons of mass destruction programs.
The officials warned that these “highly skilled” workers have secretly worked in a variety of positions and industries, primarily on cryptocurrency projects, to launder illicitly obtained funds back to the North Korean government.