On Thursday, blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis said that law enforcement had recovered $30 million in cryptocurrency stolen in the Ronin Bridge hack in March. According to Chainalysis, Lazarus Group, the North Korea-linked collective behind the attacks, first used sophisticated money laundering techniques, such as sending the stolen Ether (ETH) to cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash, converting it to Bitcoin ( BTC), then sent the Bitcoins to Tornado Cash and subsequently sold them on exchanges. However, the group recently abandoned these techniques after the US Treasury Department placed sanctions on Tornado Cash wallet addresses.
Chainalysis explains that in response, the Lazarus Group hackers switched, perhaps ironically, to laundering stolen cryptocurrencies via cross-chain bridges on legitimate DeFi platforms. “Using Chainalysis tools, these cross-chain fund movements can be easily traced,” the firm wrote, pointing to a transaction in which stolen funds were transferred to BNB Chain from Ethereum, then exchanged for the Tron stablecoin, USDD, and were eventually transferred to the BitTorrent blockchain network.
The North Korean-backed Lazarus Group first got hold of five of the nine private phrases from the Ronin Network’s bridge transaction validators. After obtaining a majority consensus, they approved two transactions to transfer 173,600 ETH and 25 million USD Coin (USDC) from the Ronin Bridge, successfully removing the assets.
Since then, Binance has managed to recover $5.8 million in funds related to the Ronin exploit. Just four months later, the Ronin developers announced that the chain bridge would be reactivated after three audits. Sky Mavis, the developer of Ronin, raised over $150 million in a Binance-backed round to rebuild the protocol.
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