A cryptocurrency bounty for information about a hacker
The US State Department is offering a reward of up to $ 10 million in cryptocurrency to anyone with information on hackers. As part of the Rewards for Justice program, the US government had previously promised a bounty of a similar amount in exchange for information about possible ransomware attacks.
“Possible cryptocurrency reward payments may be available to eligible sources,” the State Department statement said.
This new bounty targets this time hackers who work for a foreign power, such as China, Russia or South Korea. In recent months, the Biden administration has repeatedly accused Russian and Chinese authorities of carrying out cyber attacks targeting the United States.
This was particularly the case during the Solarwinds hack last December. After the discovery of the hack, several US government agencies singled out a group of hackers close to Russian intelligence services.
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US to use cryptocurrency to fight hacking
According to information shared by CNN, the government promoted its rewards program at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas. Each year, the event brings together computer security experts, firms specializing in cybersecurity and numerous hackers. Experts often take advantage of the conference to lift the veil on security vulnerabilities.
To attract the attention of hackers, an unsecured Wi-Fi network called #Rewardsnotransoms has been made available. This network relayed the experts to the official government website dedicated to the cryptocurrency bonus.
Contacted by CNN, a spokesperson for the State Department assures that the rewards in cryptocurrencies rather than in fiat currencies will help attract new sources of information.
“In our program there is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm because we really push the boundaries whenever we have the opportunity to try to reach the audience, the sources and the people who may have information that helps to improve. our national security, ”the spokesperson said, saying the initiative will“ continue to move forward in many different ways ”.
According to William R. Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center in the United States until his resignation in January 2021, this is not the State Department’s first foray into cryptocurrency. Unfortunately, the former official declined to say more, assuring that the information is classified.
Either way, this is probably not the latest initiative of this ilk. State Department officials have pledged to make more use of cryptocurrency as part of their rewards programs.
“I think the cryptocurrency offering is something we will be using in the future for other types of rewards. This could encourage other types of sources to come to us, ”said one official.
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About the author: Florian Bayard