- The US issued a sanction against Blender, a Bitcoin mixer that it claims was used by North Korean hackers to launder part of the $625 million stolen from Axie Infinity.
- North Korea has responded, saying the US has been using its hegemonic position in the IT industry to commit espionage acts against countries it’s opposed to.
The United States has been using its dominance over the global IT industry to commit espionage acts against countries that are not its allies, North Korea has claimed. The accusation comes in response to the US issuing sanctions against Blender, a BTC mixer that it claimed was used to launder some of the proceeds of the mega Axie Infinity hack.
On Friday, the US Treasury Department issued its first-ever sanctions on a digital currency mixer, targeting Blender.io. It claimed that Blender had been used by North Korea to support its “malicious cyber activities and money-laundering of stolen virtual currency.”
Most recently, Blender had been used by Lazarus Group to launder funds that it stole from Axie Infinity, Treasury alleged. Lazarus is linked to the North Korean government, the department claimed, and has been used by the government for illicit activities, including major crypto and bank heists.
Brian Nelson, the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence commented:
Virtual currency mixers that assist illicit transactions pose a threat to U.S. national security interests. We are taking action against illicit financial activity by the DPRK and will not allow state-sponsored thievery and its money-laundering enablers to go unanswered.
Treasury claimed that the mixer had been used to launder $20.5 million of the proceeds from the $625 million heist, which is the largest in crypto history. As CNF reported, Binance had cracked down on some of the hackers who attempted to cash out some of the funds on its platform, recovering $5.8 million.
Mixers are services that allow users to obfuscate the path of their coins on the blockchain. Once set to the mixer, the coins are commingled with other funds and sent back to their owners. This way, it’s impossible to point to one user and claim they have stolen coins as they can easily claim innocence.
North Korea responds, accuses US of espionage
North Korea didn’t take America’s aggression lying down. On Saturday, Park Song Il who serves at the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the US was playing innocent for a crime that originally emanated from the country and using its dominance in IT to crack down on countries it’s at odds with.
Song brushed aside the joint alert issued by the Treasury, Homeland, and FBI as well as “a nonsensical remark that the DPRK is financing illegal weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs through its cyber activities.”
The U.S. has taken advantage of its hegemonic position in the IT industry to systematically commit espionage acts against other countries since a long time ago.
Song further accused the US of bigger cybercrimes than those it’s going all out against.
“It is the U.S. which astonished the whole world by tapping the phone calls of leaders of its allies, to say nothing of its enemies. It is again the U.S. which conducted more than 61,000 hacking operations under the internet surveillance program such as “PRISM”’, Song claimed.
We flatly reject the baseless “cyber threat” set afloat by the U.S. and brand it as a grave infringement on the sovereignty of our state.