US Warns North Korea Against ‘State-Sponsored’ Cyber Attacks on Blockchain Firms

The US has named North Korean cyber groups APT38, BlueNoroff, Lazarous, and Stardust Chollima for targeting blockchain and crypto firms.

US Warns North Korea Against ‘State-Sponsored’ Cyber Attacks on Blockchain Firms

Photo Credit: Pixabay/ Gerd Altmann

The CISA has named multiple North Korean cyber groups as ‘Advanced Persistent Threat (APT)’

Highlights
  • FBI, US Treasury joined CISA in crypto report
  • North Korean crypto hackers have been warned
  • US government asked blockchain firms to be careful

US authorities have issued a cybersecurity advisory highlighting the cyber threats originating from North Korea and shadowing blockchain and crypto firms. The report has blamed North Korea for state-sponsoring these cyber-attacks. The document warning North Korea against initiating such actions and listing suggestions to relevant platforms has been compiled by US' Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the US Treasury also joined CISA in issuing the statement.

“The US government has observed North Korean cyber actors targeting a variety of organisations in the blockchain technology and cryptocurrency industry. The cyber actors use applications to gain access to the victim's computer, propagate malware across the victim's network environment, and steal private keys or exploit other security gaps,” the report said.

The development comes after US authorities blamed North Korean hacking group Lazarus for the mega hack attack on Axie Infinity game's Ronin Network that drained its developer Sky Mavis out of $625 million (roughly Rs. 4,729 crore).

In its report, the CISA has named multiple North Korean cyber groups as ‘Advanced Persistent Threat (APT)'. These include APT38, BlueNoroff, and Stardust Chollima alongside Lazarus.

“North Korean state-sponsored cyber hackers use a full array of tactics and techniques to exploit computer networks of interest, acquire sensitive cryptocurrency-intellectual property, and gain financial assets,” the report added.

The range of blockchain firms that are being targeted by hackers include crypto exchanges, decentralised finance (DeFi) protocols, play-to-earn crypto video games, trading companies, venture capital funds investing in the sector, and individual holders of large amounts of crypto assets and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The US government has recommended implementing mitigations to protect firms in the blockchain technology and cryptocurrency industry.

Applying defence-in-depth security strategy, enforcing credential requirements and multifactor authentication for users, educating users on social engineering, and implementing email and domain mitigations have been listed as some immediate precautionary steps that blockchain firms can use to safeguard themselves against malicious attacks.

“Create an incident response plan to respond to possible cyber intrusions. The plan should include reporting incidents to both the FBI and CISA—quick reporting can reduce the severity of incidents,” the CISA further directed.

Overall, cyber criminals last year stole over $1.3 billion (roughly Rs. 9,606 crore) from the blockchain sector, a report by blockchain research firm CertiK has claimed.

The activities of hackers aiming at the blockchain sector have escalated in recent times.

Just days ago, hackers stole $182 million (roughly Rs. 1,389 crore) from Beanstalk Farms, an Ethereum-based stablecoin protocol.

In March this year, Li Finance (LiFi), a blockchain protocol lost nearly $600,000 (roughly Rs. 4.5 crore) from 29 crypto wallets in a breach.


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Radhika Parashar
Radhika Parashar is a senior correspondent for Gadgets 360. She has been reporting on tech and telecom for the last three years now and will be focussing on writing about all things crypto. Besides this, she is a major sitcom nerd and often replies in Chandler Bing and Michael Scott references. For tips or queries you could reach out to her at RadhikaP@ndtv.com. More
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