Oct 09 2023

Lazarus APT Laundered Over $900 Million Worth of Cryptocurrency

Category: APT,Cryptodisc7 @ 7:24 am

Threat actors have been laundering currencies with multiple methods. One of the most predominant ways they have been using lately was the Cross-chain crime. In a cross-chain crime, threat actors swap their Cryptocurrency between different blockchains and tokens that help maintain their anonymity.

Moreover, this cross-chain crime is carried out using decentralized exchanges (DEXs) and cross-chain bridges. As with the increase in cybercriminal activities such as ransomware attacks, scams, or crypto thefts, this has become an increasingly preferred money laundering method for cybercriminals.

In addition to this, reports also suggest that more than $4.1 billion of illegal funds have been laundered through decentralized exchanges (DEXs), cross-chain bridges, and coin swap services. 

This is estimated to rise to $6.5 billion by the end of 2023 and $10.5 billion by 2025. Another report indicates that $2.7 billion was laundered through cross-chain crime over just a 12-month period between July 2022 and July 2023.

Reason for High Adoption Rate

Threat actors and scammers generate revenue through illegal methods using this cross-chain crime for several reasons, which include the popularity of crypto assets excluding bitcoins among criminals, the anonymity it offers, and stable value assets as some of them are government-backed currencies (Tether (USDT) or DAI).

Another major reason for the adoption is that many cross-asset and cross-chain services other than centralized exchanges do not have ID verification. In addition to this, this method offers protection against tracing by using techniques like prolific asset- or chain-hopping.

Annual figures of cumulative illegal funds laundered
Annual figures of cumulative illegal funds laundered (Source: Elliptic)

Furthermore, it has been discovered that the Lazarus group, responsible for several high-profile cyberattacks, had laundered over $900 million using this method. 

Decentralized services (DEXs), cross-chain bridges, and coin swap services have been found to have laundered over $7 billion of illegal funds as of July 2023. Elliptic researchers have published a complete report about this method and other information.

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Tags: Lazarus

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