Hacker group stole $41 million from crypto casino Stakes.com
The North Korean hacker group Lazarus strikes again, pocketing $41 million worth of crypto from the online casino and betting site Stakes.com. Based on the reports of the FBI, this loot rounds up all they have stolen to over $200 million this year alone. The North Korean hacker group has been on a hacking spree, and Stakes.com was an unfortunate victim.
In this article, we shed light on the recent hacking of Stake.com while discussing the increased frequency of cyber attacks from the infamous hacker group. Please keep reading to learn more about the September 2023 cyber heist and what we know about the North Korean-sponsored hacker group that did it.
North Korean Hacker Group Strikes Again
The September 4 attack marked another one of the heists wrought by the Lazarus group. The first one of the year took place on June 3, when the group stole $100 million from the Atomic wallet users. The second attack was on July 22, and $37 million from CoinsPaid was wafted away. On the same day, July 22, $ 60 million also disappeared from Alphapho.
The Stolen Millions in Crypto
The FBI has been heavy on the investigation, and the hacker group’s stolen assets include BSC (Binance Smart Chain), Ethereum, and Polygon. In addition, the group sent the funds to 33 different accounts to obscure their trail. The attack was sophisticated; the theft happened due to the private key of a hot wallet being stolen rather than the usual bug in smart contracts. This recent attack further raised the alarm about the Lazarus group’s potential threat to the crypto industry. The Lazarus, also known as APT38, has grown a nasty reputation for attacking US companies and bagging insane numbers. It was even added to the US sanction list in 2019. The US believes the North Korean government funds the hacking operation to raise money to purchase more nuclear weapons. The stolen millions from stake.com and the accumulated billions over the years are likely channeled to better North Korea’s military arsenal.
Impact on Stake.com and Other Hacking Victims
Regarding the impact of the attack on Stake.com, it would seem that the 2-in-1 gambling platform is not backing down. Even after the heart-wrenching sum that was swiped under the noses of Stake.com, Craven said Stake.com will continue.
Stake.com co-founder Edward Craven told DL News, “The attack was a sophisticated breach that exploited a service that the casino uses to authorize crypto transactions.” Craven later noted, “The loss of funds is by no means a trivial amount, but this attack has not materially affected Stake’s operations.” While Stake.com halted its deposit and withdrawal features after the hack, it restarted shortly after.
The FBI warned the public to steer clear of transactions directly with or derived from the affected address. They also noted that they will continue to expose North Korea’s use of illegal methods to generate revenue. The strike on Stake.com made the US tense. The Biden administration warned North Korea that they would pay if they made a move with the funds they had stolen to deal arms with Russia.
Moreover, the Lazarus hacker group’s attacks date as far back as 2014 and are not limited to the US landscape alone. The hacker group was responsible for many data breaches in several South Korean organizations, forcing them to invest heavily in cyber security. The group was also responsible for the Wannatry Ransomware that caused a lot of havoc in 2017 alongside massive financial losses. This period led many companies doubling down on their cyber security investments. The North Korean hacker group wreaked havoc with notable crypto exchanges such as Bithumb and Coindesk, leading to poor sentiments towards digital assets.
The Lazarus Group keeps evolving, which is behind its name—the hacker group’s ability to morph and become better suited at wreaking havoc and reaping their spoils. The impact of the group’s attack is more and more companies fishing out more advanced security measures.
What is the Infamous Lazarus Group Using its Steals for?
On September 4, the FBI said the hack on Stake.com could be traced to the Lazarus group, responsible for over $200 million of theft this year alone. In 2022, Chainalysis said the hacker group was also behind $3.8 billion wafting away from many US businesses.
“In recent years, there has been a marked size and scale of cyber attacks against cryptocurrency-related businesses by North Korea,” ” TRM Labs stated in June. Also, this claim was followed by accusations that the thefts coincided with an accelerated increase in North Korea’s ballistic and nuclear research.
In a manner that supports the claim even further, the recent attack on Stake.com came a few days before the North Korean president, Kim Jung, met Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss support for the war against Ukraine. However, we are still determining what transpired between both parties and if it has anything to do with the stolen funds. However, many news outlets believe that the money stolen by the Lazarus group was meant to offer some aid to the Russian government.
When the White House National Security Advisor was asked about his opinion on the possible event, he noted;
“[This] is not going to reflect well on North Korea, and they will pay the price for this in the international community,” he said.
“We will continue to call on North Korea to abide by its public commitments not to supply weapons to Russia that will end up killing Ukrainians.”
The daring moves that the Lazarus group continues to enact on business in the US are of grave concern. The recent heist is a bitter reminder of the need for better security measures. As organizations become more vigilant, it is clear that cyber security is a critical aspect to look into. The Stake.com breach is the call to action needed for companies to double down on cyber security and form strong collaborations to fight against notorious hackers like the Lazarus group.
The safety advantage of regulated casinos with conventional currency
While the allure of crypto casinos is strong, it’s essential to note that playing at a regulated real money casino using conventional currency offers a higher level of security. Government regulations and oversight provide an added layer of protection for players, making it more difficult for criminals to exploit vulnerabilities. Therefore, for those concerned about the safety of their funds, opting for a regulated casino with traditional currency may be a wiser choice.