The United States has associated North Korean cybercriminals with the embezzlement of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency involved with the multiplayer video game Axie Infinity, according to a statement released by the Treasury Department yesterday.
Digital cash valued at nearly $615 million was taken away on March 23 from Ronin, a blockchain network that allows users to transfer cryptocurrency in and out of the game.
The hackers used a virtual currency address that was controlled by a North Korean cyber group known as "Lazarus," the Treasury Department said.
No one has clearly assigned responsibility for the exploit.
As part of its efforts to evade robust U.S. and United Nations sanctions, the DPRK has progressively turned to illegal acts - such as cybercrime - to generate profits for its weapons of mass destruction and nuclear missile programs, a Treasury spokesperson, disclosed.
The spokesperson notified that those who transact with the wallet run the risk of being subjected to United States sanctions.
In a statement, blockchain analytics companies such as Chainalysis and Elliptic stated that the designation affirmed that North Korea was responsible for the break-in.
A source with knowledge of the situation said that North Korean hackers had been the subject of the information security firm's investigation for the previous few days.
According to a post on the official Ronin blog, the FBI has determined that the hack was perpetrated by the Lazarus Group, and the Treasury has penalized the account that received the stolen money.
The Lazarus cybercriminals are under the control of North Korea's Reconnaissance General Bureau, which is the country's primary spy agency, reports said.
Reports added that it was involved in the "WannaCry" ransomware attacks, as well as hacking global banks and account holders, and the 2014 cyber terrorism on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
As per the draft resolution, the U.S. is urging the UN Security Council to permanently ban the Lazarus Group and suspend its assets.
Hackers have been a persistent problem for cryptocurrency platforms for quite some time. The Ronin hack was one of the most significant cryptocurrency thefts ever perpetrated.
For the reimbursement of the lost funds, Sky Mavis said it would use a fusion of its own financial statement funds and $150 million generated from shareholders including Binance.
The spokesperson for the Treasury also noted that the U.S. will work to publicize crypto cybersecurity rules to help in the effort to protect against the theft of virtual currency from the internet.