Over the weekend, Japanese local media reported that Lazarus has been attacking local crypto companies, according to the National Police Agency.
The group has been using social engineering, such as sending phishing emails to employees at crypto companies or using social media to lure them into installing malware.
Phishing is a technique where targeted emails are sent to victims to entice them into revealing personal information. The email addresses are often bought on the dark web by hackers from data breaches such as the one that targeted hardware wallet provider Ledger.
Japanese police also reported that some companies had been victims of internal systems hacks resulting in the theft of cryptocurrency.
Lazarus Ups its Game
Following the attacks, the National Police Agency conducted an investigation which led them to the Lazarus group being the culprits. Late last week, the agency released an alert stating that it is likely that Japanese crypto companies have been targeted by the North Korea-linked hacking group for “several years.”
Katsuyuki Okamoto, from security firm Trend Micro, commented that “Lazarus initially targeted banks in various countries, but recently it has been aiming at crypto assets that are managed more loosely.”
Raising public awareness was urged since their style of attack phishes individuals rather than a heavy onslaught targeting entire networks or blockchains. The NPA urged people to be more vigilant with email attachments and “not to open them carelessly.” They also advised installing better security software and beefing up authentication methods when dealing with digital assets.
Lazarus has also been targeting tech job seekers with spear phishing attacks using LinkedIn, according to reports last week.
A Chainalysis report claimed that Lazarus had stolen $840 million in crypto in the first half of this year, most of which from the Ronin bridge hack. The total was more than 2020 and 2021 combined. Around a third of it funds their nuclear weapon program, according to Anne Neuberger, the U.S. deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology.
Crypto Market Outlook
The shocking amount of crypto stolen comes in the middle of a deepening bear market, so when things turn around, groups such as Lazarus are likely to up their game.
Markets are flat on the day with little change over the past 24 hours resulting in a total capitalization of around $959 billion. Bitcoin failed to top $19,500 over the weekend, and Ethereum struggled to better $1,300.