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FBI says N. Korea-related hacker group behind U.S. crypto firm heist

The truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas

(This Jan. 23 story has been officially corrected to say one hacker group, not two, in the headline and paragraph 1)

(Reuters) - A hacker group associated with North Korea, the Lazarus Group, also known as APT38, was responsible for the theft last June of $100 million from U.S. crypto firm Harmony's Horizon bridge, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Monday.

On Jan. 13, North Korean cyber actors used a privacy protocol called Railgun to launder over $60 million worth of ethereum stolen during the theft in June, the FBI said in a statement.

A portion of the stolen ethereum was subsequently sent to several virtual asset providers and converted to bitcoin, the FBI said.

The FBI said North Korea's theft and laundering of virtual currency is used to support its ballistic missile and Weapons of Mass Destruction programs.

In June last year, California-based Harmony said that a heist had hit its Horizon bridge, which was the underlying software used by digital tokens such as bitcoin and ether for transferring crypto between different blockchains.

Reuters in June reported that North Korean hackers were most likely behind the attack on Harmony, citing three digital investigative firms.

Harmony develops blockchains for decentralized finance - peer-to-peer sites that offer loans and other services without traditional gatekeepers such as banks - and non-fungible tokens.

(Reporting by Sneha Bhowmik in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler)