Here’s how crypto exchange Binance recovered $5.8 million linked to Axie Infinity hack

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Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has recovered crypto assets worth $5.8 million linked to the Axie Infinity hack. In a tweet, Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao said the funds that were distributed over 86 wallet addresses have been recovered.

“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. $5.8M has been recovered,” he said.

Axie Infinity is a popular online game in which players can earn cryptocurrency by playing the game. Several players even earned a living out of the game, until its blockchain called Ronin was hacked. The game has animated monsters called Axies, every player has a squad of Axies that could be battled against each other.

The game, which quite resembles Nintendo’s Pokemon had facilitated $3.6 billion in transactions, drawing around 2 million users per day, according to the data obtained on its website. Axie Infinity’s problem started when the game created its own blockchain called —Ronin Network, to reduce the burden of gas fees or transaction fees that would have come from the Ethereum blockchain.

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Taking advantage of the private Ronin blockchain, hackers managed to steal crypto assets worth $625 million from Axie Infinity. The company vowed to reimburse the lost funds to its users, it even raised $150 million to pay back its players.

While the hackers stole the crypto and transferred it to their wallets, there’s no certain way for them to liquidate these crypto assets. The only way is to use a centralised crypto exchange or tornado mixers. When hackers transferred the crypto assets to the Binance exchange from 86 different wallet addresses, the company immediately held these transactions, recovering $5.8 million worth of crypto assets.

Meanwhile, crypto tracking service Etherescan shows that nearly $230 million of the stolen funds have been moved to several wallet addresses. Almost $170 million has been sent to tornado cash to hide the trails of the fund. Tornado cash mixer is a platform that enables anonymous crypto transactions between two parties, by generating a secret hash each time a user deposits assets, keeping the identity of the user as well as the buyer anonymous completely.

However, with Tornado cash also taking steps to block sanctioned wallets, it is not going to be easy for the perpetrators to erase their footprint entirely.

The United States has linked North Korean hackers to the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency tied to the popular online game Axie Infinity, the US Treasury Department said. “The United States is aware that the DPRK has increasingly relied on illicit activities – including cybercrime – to generate revenue for its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs as it tries to evade robust US and UN sanctions,” a Treasury Department spokesperson said, using the initials of North Korea’s official name.

Axie Infinity has been touted as the future of play-to-earn games, monetising players their fair share for playing the game. But, the complexities, transaction fees, and the usage of decentralised finance platforms have made crypto platforms susceptible to cyber attacks.

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