persona non grata – The decentralized finance, driven by transaction volumes of billions of dollars, attracts desire. Blockchain and the funds it attracts whet the appetite of hackers. Sometimes siphoned off, sometimes just skinned, crypto protocols have become prime targets. So much so that US regulations seem to have web pirates in their sights. In the fight against this cybercrime, North Korea is designated as digital enemy number 1. Let’s decrypt.
North Korea in the crosshairs of the cryptogendarmes
the hack by Axie Infinity last March, US regulators confirmed what they said at the start of 2022: North Korea is a crypto threat† Indeed, these state hackers run the risk of setting the blockchain on fire. In this battle, the US Treasury Department wants to step up its efforts to block the $620 million crypto treasure of Axie Infinity hackers.
† Although the purported purpose is to increase privacy, blenders like Blender are often used by illegal actors. Blender has helped transfer more than $500 million worth of Bitcoin since its inception in 2017 and (…) used it in the money laundering process for the Axie Infinity heist in the DPRK, processing more than $20.5 million”
In this dynamic OFAC, deOffice of Foreign Assets ControlSanctions Blender, crypto mixing service linked to North Korea and blacklists new Bitcoin and Ethereum addresses. As a reminder, so-called mixing services make it possible to hide the origin and destination of a transaction. This makes it impossible for researchers to find out the addresses of hackers.
This list, recently updated, contains 46 Bitcoin addresses and 12 Ethereum addresses. It is then 20.5 million dollars, stolen from Ronin Network, which would have been laundered. By blackmailing Blender addresses, OFAC wants to prevent North Korea from abusing the global financial system.
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Crypto Mixing Services In Full Storm?
According to the US Treasury, Blender has been implicated in numerous ransomware attacks. We call ransomwarea malicious computer program that hijacks a website, confidential documents or even a crypto platform in order to demand a ransom in return.
However, this is not the first time addresses have been blocked by blockchain police. However, this is the first time that a crypto mixing service has been added to an OFAC sanctions list.
“Today, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury Department sanctioned the blender Blender (Blender) of virtual currencies.† It is used by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to support its malicious cyber activists.
Only for now Blender is sanctioned. However, other services are in OFAC’s crosshairs. Tornado Cash sits on an ejection seat, for example. Indeed, analyzes of tracing stolen transactions show that more than 21,000 ETH was laundered on Tornado Cash.
The Treasury remains clear in its statements. † Virtual currency mixers that help criminals have no place in the global economy. According to the American regulator, they pose a threat to national security. North Korea and its regular hacking attempts can only become a pretext for: weaken anonymity and decentralization in general.
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