Binance Recovers $5.8M From $622M Axie Infinity Bridge Theft

According to a tweet from Binance CEO Changpeng "CZ" Zhao early this morning, the exchange has recovered a small portion of the $622 million stolen from Sky Mavis's Ethereum sidechain Ronin last month.

Axie Infinity, a popular play-to-earn crypto game, is developed by Sky Mavis.

The North Korean hacker organization behind the crime began channeling part of the wealth on the exchange through "over 86 accounts," according to Zhao, and "$5.8 million had been retrieved."

Following an FBI tip, the US Treasury put the attacker's Ethereum wallet to its sanctions list just last week.

The wallet, dubbed "Ronin Bridge Exploiter" on Etherscan, was linked to the North Korean hacking outfit Lazarus, which the FBI classifies as "state-sponsored."

Lazarus is behind numerous big attacks, including the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017, the Sony Pictures attack in 2014, and a series of cyber raids on pharmaceutical businesses in 2020, notably AstraZeneca, the makers of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Ronin attacker was caught sending $7 million in cryptocurrency to Tornado Cash earlier this month, a tool that obfuscates crypto transactions by acting as an intermediary and destroying the on-chain link between the source of funds and their destination.

Infinity Ronin bridge hack by Axie

The attackers took 173,600 Ethereum and 25.5 million USDC stablecoins from the bridge connecting Sky Mavis's bespoke Ronin sidechain to Ethereum on March 23.

However, it wasn't until March 29 that the theft was detected.

Binance led a $150 million investment round a week later, which included Animoca, the business behind the famous crypto game The Sandbox, and a16z, a tech venture capital firm.

The money was intended to help victims of the attack get reimbursed and security flaws fixed.

At the time, Sky Mavis described the hack as "socially orchestrated," and said the security issue was caused by a small validator set. With the increased capital, the company plans to increase the number of validators from five to twenty-one in the next three months.

Sky Mavis started a bug bounty program last week, promising beneficent hackers a variety of incentives, including a $1,000,000 jackpot, if they can find any "extraordinarily serious" vulnerabilities.