The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has issued new sanctions against Blender.io, a cryptocurrency mixer that is used by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
OFAC Sanctions Coin Mixer
The OFAC released a press release revealing that Blender was used by North Korean hackers to both launder digital assets and carry out state-sponsored cyberattacks.
According to reports, the website was involved in the highly publicized security breach at AxieInfinity’s Ronin Bridge. It processed over $20.5 million of illicit proceeds from the $620 million total drained. Since its creation five years ago, it has facilitated the transfer in Bitcoin of over $500 million.
Brian E. Nelson, Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence stated that
“Today, Treasury approves a virtual currency mixer for the first-ever time. U.S. national security concerns are at risk from virtual currency mixers that facilitate illicit transactions. We will take action against illegal financial activity by DPRK and won’t allow state-sponsored theft and money-laundering facilitators to go unanswered.
Hackers North Korean-Sponsored
Two weeks ago, the FBI released a statement claiming that cyber actors APT38 (also known as Lazarus Group) were behind the Ronin Bridge attack.
OFAC sanctioned Ether addresses linked to the attack. The investigation revealed Russian-linked ransomware groups including Trickbot and Conti, Ryuk, Sodinokibi and Gandcrab.
The US think tank Center for a New American Security (CNAS) had warned that the Pyongyang cybercrime group would “continue adapt its cybercrime techniques” to strike financial and digital asset companies. In 2020, the Lazarus Group reportedly stole approximately $300 million of crypto from KuCoin, a Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange.
Chainalysis also found that the North Korean cybercriminals stole almost $400 million in crypto just in 2021. After attacking investment firms and crypto exchanges, the malicious entities took the funds.
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