US government says $650 million Axie Infinity cryptocurrency heist pulled by North Korea

The U.S. Treasury Department has added a North Korean hacking group calling itself the Lazarus Group to its international sanctions list, saying the group was responsible for Axie Infinity’s massive cryptocurrency theft that stole more than $600 million in March.

Axie Infinity uses a “sidechain” called Ronin that enables users to access the Ethereum blockchain without incurring many standard NFT transaction fees. Essentially, the Ronin and Ethereum blockchains run in parallel, connected by a digital “bridge” that allows cryptocurrencies to move between them. Unfortunately, a bug in the bridge also allowed hackers to steal 173,600 ETH and $25.5 million in USDC, which was converted to over $600 million at the time of the theft.