US government says $650M Axie Infinity crypto-heist was pulled by North Korea

The US Treasury department has added the North Korea-based hacker collective that calls itself Lazarus Group to its international sanctions list, saying the group was responsible for the big crypto-heist of Axie Infinity that made off with more than $600 million in March.

Axie Infinity makes use of a “sidechain” called Ronin that enables users to access the Ethereum blockchain without incurring many of the standard NFT transaction fees. Essentially, the Ronin and Ethereum blockchains run in parallel, connected by a digital “bridge” that allows the movement of cryptocurrency between them. Unfortunately, an exploit in that bridge also enabled hackers to make off with 173,600 Ethereum and 25.5M USDC, which at the time of the theft converted to more than $600 million.

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