Feb 03, 2023

North Korean Hackers Steal $1.65 Billion in DeFi Funds

Huawei Files Trademarks for its NFT Series

Chinese telecom giant Huawei has recently filed for eight trademarks related to its Huawei “YunYunBao” nonfungible tokens (NFT) series. The trademarks include digital collectibles in the scientific instruments, furniture, education, jewelry, advertising and telecom sectors. Last April, Huawei unveiled its YunYunBao NFTs, featuring characters inspired by its namesake cloud service. Huawei NFTs are minted on its proprietary Huawei Petal Chain, which the telecom giant says has over 1,000 nodes and can handle over 50,000 transactions per second.

Toyota Sponsors Web3 Hackathon

Japanese blockchain Astar Network recently announced that it had received a sponsorship from Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota for its latest Web3 hackathon. Astar is currently 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.

North Korea’s Growing Crypto Theft

Blockchain forensic analytics firm Chainalysis recently revealed that North Korean hackers stole an estimated $1.65 billion out of the $3.8 billion funds siphoned from decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols in 2022. This is a sharp increase from the $299.5 million stolen in 2020 and $428.8 million stolen in 2021. The firm also warned that despite the United States Treasury Department imposing sanctions on cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash on Aug. 8, North Korean hackers have increasingly turned to other digital asset mixers, such as Sinbad, to launder stolen funds.

No Binance 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.” Huobi has a sizable number of staff working in mainland China, who reportedly revolted against the firm’s stringent new labor policies early this month.

Huobi Founder’s New Ventures

After selling his entire stake in Huobi to Sun’s About Capital last October, Chinese businessman 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. 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.

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. On Jan. 18, 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.

The East Asian crypto and web3 space is rapidly evolving, with a number of exciting developments being made in the industry. Huawei’s move to trademark its NFTs is a great example of the potential of NFTs as a promotional tool. Toyota’s sponsorship of a blockchain hackathon is also a sign of the growing interest in the web3 space in East Asia. On the other hand, North Korea’s increasing crypto theft is a cause for concern. Binance’s lack of a metaverse game is a missed opportunity, while Huobi’s recent denial of data sharing allegations is a step in the right direction. Finally, the alleged defiance of Bitzlato despite sanctions is a reminder of the need for greater regulation in the industry.

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