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Ronin bridge hackers used Bitcoin privacy tools to maintain anonymity

Ronin Bridge
Ronin Bridge

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The exploit on the Ronin bridge happened earlier this year, with around $625 million worth of crypto being stolen from the protocol. The hackers behind the exploit are believed to be a North Korean hacking group. Despite exposing their identity, the group has continued to use privacy tools to anonymize transactions.

Ronin bridge hackers used privacy tools

The activity of the Ronin bridge hackers was revealed by BliteZero, an on-chain investigator that works for SlowMist. The company revealed the transaction route taken by the funds since the day of the attack.

Most stolen funds were initially converted into Et5her before being laundered through the Tornado Cash crypto mixer. The funds were later bridged to the Bitcoin network and converted into BTC through the Ren protocol.

As aforementioned, the hackers behind the exploit are believed to be the North Korean Lazarus hacking group. At the onset of the attack, the hackers transferred part of the funds, 6249 ETH, into centralized exchanges such as Huobi and FTX.

After the funds were transferred to these exchanges, the hackers seemed to have converted them into Bitcoin. The hackers later transferred 439 BTC, worth around $20.5 million, to Blender, a Bitcoin privacy tool. The US Treasury sanctioned the tool in early May. The analysts noted that the hackers deposited all the withdrawn funds into Blender after taking the off exchanges.

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Additionally, the majority of the stolen funds, around 175,000 ETH, were transferred to Tornado Cash between April 4 and May 19. The hackers used decentralized exchanges such as Uniswap and 1inch to convert 113,000 ETH into renBTC. The Ren bridge was used to transfer assets from the Ethereum blockchain to the Bitcoin network.

Afterward, around 6631 BTC was distributed to multiple decentralized exchanges and decentralized protocols. The Ronin network later withdrew 2871 BTC, worth around $6.16 million at the current prices, through ChipMixer, another Bitcoin privacy tool.

Exploit on the Ronin network

The hack on the Ronin network was one of the most devastating for the crypto sector. The Ronin bridge is used on the popular Axie Infinity play-to-earn game, and the exploit affected the platform’s progress over the years.

Shortly after the attack, some crypto firms, including Binance, donated $150M to assist Sky Mavis, the team behind the Ronin bridge. Additionally, the US Treasury recently sanctioned Tornado Cash or its actions in facilitating money laundering.

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