State Department Offering Up to $10 Million in Cryptocurrency as Bounty for Foreign Hackers


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The State Department announced Thursday it will pay up to $10 million for any information leading to state-backed hackers, and it’s willing to pay the bounty in cryptocurrency.

The department said payments would be made under its 37-year-old counterterrorism program, Rewards for Justice, and that informants could begin the process by using a secure channel on the Dark Web.

“Commensurate with the seriousness with which we view these cyber threats, the Rewards for Justice program has set up a Dark Web (Tor-based) tips-reporting channel to protect the safety and security of potential sources,” the department said in its announcement. “The RFJ program also is working with interagency partners to enable … the possible relocation of and payment of rewards to sources. Reward payments may include payments in cryptocurrency.”

The announcement comes after an uptick in high-profile cyberattacks from Russia, many linked to the country’s government. The Republican National Committee was reportedly targeted in June by Cozy Bear, one of the same hacking groups tied to Russian intelligence services responsible for targeting the Democratic Party in 2016. The attack happened around the time another Russian group, REvil, short for “Ransomware Evil,” targeted JBS, an American beef producer.

REvil’s online presence mysteriously vanished on July 13 — just after President Joe Biden said the United States would eliminate it if Russia failed to do so. The administration is expected to announce additional measures to combat ransomware attacks in the weeks ahead after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday the U.S. was “elevating” the issue in “engagements with Russia.”

“Countries that harbor cybercriminals have a responsibility to take action,” Blinken added. “If they don’t, we will.”

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