File-based cybersecurity breach leads to theft of $620 million in cryptocurrency

by | Aug 11, 2022 | Thought leadership

Axie Infinity – a blockchain-powered online game with over a million daily users worldwide – recently lost over $620 million in cryptocurrency following a security breach in which hackers used files infected with malware to gain access to the network of its publisher, Sky Mavis.

In a remarkable series of events, North Korean cyber criminals created fake job opportunities on LinkedIn to fool Sky Mavis staff, with one software engineer going through several bogus interviews in the belief they could land a new role with a very generous salary.

As part of the complex process, the candidate was sent a job offer by the hackers in a PDF file, but as explained in one media report, the document was “laced with spyware”. This allowed the hackers to initiate a chain of events that led to the theft of the cryptocurrency assets.

According to one new study, the Axie Infinity ‘heist’ jumps straight to the top of the chart as the biggest crypto theft reported worldwide so far. Over $2 billion in total has been stolen so far this year in 100+ reported incidents, rapidly closing in on the record totals seen last year.

The story highlights the complex risks faced by organizations today, which are subjected to highly sophisticated attacks. However, in many cases like this, the malware is deployed on the target network using the most simple technique – an infected file opened by an employee.

It also underlines the inherent vulnerability of today’s cybersecurity strategies in that they rely on detection-based methods to prevent malware infections. Instead, Glasswall CDR technology offers proactive protection from file-based cybersecurity threats hidden within today’s most popular file formats. In contrast to detection-based security, such as antivirus and sandboxing that must play catch up with new threats, Glasswall instantly cleans and rebuilds every file to match its ‘known good’ industry specification – automatically removing potential risks and closing the ‘protection gap’ that can be up to 18 days with detection-based methods.

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