Feb 03, 2023

North Korea Steals $1.65B in DeFi Funds, Bitzlato Defiant

Huawei looks to enter the NFT space

Chinese telecom giant Huawei has recently filed for eight trademarks related to its Huawei “YunYunBao” nonfungible tokens (NFT) series, according to a Jan. 28 report by Sina News. The trademarks cover digital collectibles in the scientific instruments, furniture, education, jewelry, advertising, and telecom sectors. Last April, Huawei unveiled its YunYunBao NFTs, which feature characters inspired by its namesake cloud service. The NFTs are minted on Huawei Petal Chain, a blockchain network with over 1,000 nodes and the capability to handle over 50,000 transactions per second.

Toyota sponsors blockchain hackathon

Japanese blockchain Astar Network has recently received a sponsorship from Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota for its latest Web3 hackathon, according to a Feb. 1 Medium post by Sota Watanabe, the founder of Astar Network. Astar is a parachain built on the Polkadot blockchain. Over $100,000 in prizes will be distributed to projects that develop “intra-company DAO [Decentralized Autonomous Organization] support tools for this hackathon which Toyota employees may actually use in the future.” The hackathon will run from Feb. 14 to March 25. Watanabe said: “We are very excited to be hosting the Web3 Hackathon on Astar with Toyota. During the event, we aim to develop the first PoC DAO tool for Toyota’s employees. If a good tool is produced, Toyota employees will interact daily with products on Astar Network.”

North Korean hackers steal millions in crypto

According to blockchain forensic analytics firm Chainalysis, North Korean hackers have stolen an estimated $1.65 billion out of the $3.8 billion funds siphoned from decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols in 2022. This is a huge increase from the $299.5 million and $428.8 million stolen in 2020 and 2021, respectively. The firm also warned that North Korean hackers have increasingly turned to other digital asset mixers, such as Sinbad, to launder stolen funds. Chainalysis said: “North Korea-linked hackers tend to send much of what they steal to other DeFi protocols, not because these protocols are effective for money laundering — they’re actually quite bad for money laundering given their increased transparency compared to centralized services — but rather because DeFi hacks often result in cybercriminals acquiring large quantities of illiquid tokens that aren’t listed at centralized exchanges. The hackers therefore must turn to other DeFi protocols, usually DEXes, to swap for more liquid assets.”

Binance not entering the metaverse

In an ask-me-anything session on Jan. 14, Changpeng Zhao, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Binance, said that the firm “is more open to just investing in other virtual reality or metaverse games,” as the firm is not a game-builder and doesn’t have a game building team. Instead, Zhao says that Binance will focus its “next big product” on releasing multiple proofs-of-reserves and proofs-of-solvencies to increase its transparency. The exchange has set a goal of 1 billion users passing Know Your Customer verification for the new year.

Huobi denies data sharing allegations

Digital asset entrepreneur Justin Sun has responded to allegations that his exchange Huobi provided client information to Chinese tax authorities. The TRON founder tweeted that Huobi “doesn’t share any client information to tax authorities unless it follows international judicial assistance procedure.” Sun praised the introduction of a new 20% Chinese cryptocurrency income tax as “a clear indication that the Chinese government views cryptocurrencies as a legitimate form of wealth and wants to ensure its proper taxation.”

Huobi founder’s new ventures

Huobi founder Lin Li has dedicated his time to managing Hong Kong blockchain investment holdings firm New Huo Technology. On Jan. 30, New Huo launched a staking technical support service, dubbed “Sinohope Staking,” that will first serve the Cosmos community before expanding into Ethereum, EOS and ChainLink. According to developers, Sinohope Staking will provide “multi-node deployment, real-time monitoring of node operation process, 7*24h online support, 3-layer wallet structure and multiple signature technologies” for users interested in staking their assets on public blockchains. New Huo says it will help clients set up their stake nodes and monitor their operations “without handling or holding any clients’ assets,” and claims clients will retain “100%” of their staked cryptocurrencies during the process.

Bitzlato allegedly defiant despite sanctions

The co-founder of Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange Bitzlato says the platform will reopen after being shut down by United States authorities last month. In a Jan. 31 YouTube interview, Russian national Anton Shurenko said that the exchange would open later at an unspecified time and claimed up to 50% of funds held in seized hot wallets would be available for withdrawal at that time. Bitzlato was shut down after an investigation by law enforcement officials, including the U.S. Department of Justice, revealed that the exchange imposed lax Know Your Customer rules and allegedly laundered over $700 million worth of illicit funds via crypto-fiat transactions. Despite its notoriety, many users in the crypto community say they’ve never heard of Bitzlato before the incident.

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