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Binance Recovers $5.8 Million of $625 Million Stolen Funds From Axie Infinity Ronin Bridge Hack

Binance, through its CEO and Founder, Changpeng Zhao, has announced it has recovered $5.8 million (roughly Rs. 44.5 crore) worth of stolen funds originating from a March 23 hack on Axie Infinity bridge, the Ronin Network. According to Zhao, the funds were distributed to over 86 accounts. He stated, “The DPRK hacking group started to move their Axie Infinity stolen funds today. Part of it was made to Binance, spread across over 86 accounts. $5.8 million has been recovered. We have done this many times for other projects in the past too. Stay #SAFU.”

The development arrives a week after a tip from the FBI made the US Treasury add the attacker’s Ethereum wallet to its sanctions list.

The wallet, named “Ronin Bridge Exploiter” on Etherscan, had been connected to North Korea hacking group Lazarus, an organisation that the FBI describes as “state-sponsored.”

To recall a few, Lazarus has claimed responsibility for a host of major hacks, including the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack, 2014’s Sony Pictures attack, and a series of cyber raids on pharmaceutical companies in 2020, including COVID-19 vaccine developers AstraZeneca.

Data from blockchain security firm Elliptic, also revealed earlier this month that hackers have been using decentralised crypto mixers such as Tornado Cash, to send funds to centralised exchanges, while also swapping part of the stolen USDC for Ether on decentralised exchanges.

On March 23, the attackers drained 173,600 Ether and 25.5 million USDC stablecoins from the bridge connecting Axie Infinity developer Sky Mavis’s custom Ronin sidechain to Ethereum. The hack went unnoticed till March 29 but a week later Sky Mavis raised a $150 million (roughly Rs. 1,150 crore) funding round led by Binance, including Animoca Games, the company behind popular crypto game The Sandbox, and tech venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z).

The purpose of the funding was to help reimburse victims of the attack and patch security vulnerabilities.

Sky Mavis described the hack as “socially engineered” at the time and said the cause of the security breach was a small validator set. The company is reportedly expanding the number of validators from five to twenty-one over the next three months with the new funding.

The developer also announced a bug bounty program last week, offering various prizes, including a jackpot of $1 million (roughly Rs. 7.5 crore) to hackers who can identify any “extraordinarily severe” vulnerabilities.

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