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US to give out $10 million reward for tips on foreign hackers

The United States is all set on tightening security against malware and cyber attacks, and on Thursday, has announced that it will be offering a sum of $10 million rewards for tips that could help identify cyber actors who were working in partnership with foreign governments in a bid to target US infrastructure maliciously.

The announcement was made by the US State Department, which said that “certain malicious cyber operations targeting U.S critical infrastructure” may, in fact, be in contravention of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). As such, a “Dark Web (Tor-based) tips-reporting channel” has been set up in order to encourage the inflow of tips on threat actors, all the while protecting the security and safety of “potential sources.”

A Worthwhile Step

The cash reward of $10 million for tips on hackers/cybercriminals will be handed out by the US State Department, under the banner of its Rewards for Justice (RFJ) programme, which is run through the Diplomatic Security Service. This could serve to be a good way to tackle and potentially cause a decrease in the rising number of ransomware and malicious attacks.

Back in May, Colonial Pipeline, the largest gas pipeline in the country, which runs along the east coast between Houston and New Jersey, was hacked in an attack that was allegedly orchestrated by hacker group DarkSide. The group eventually demanded a ransom of $5 million from the company. Then, just two weeks ago, service and software provider Kaseya became the victim of what has been called the largest ransomware attack in history, whose ripples were felt the world over.

$10 million on tips
Image Credits: Kaseya

To Boost the Security of Protected Computers

The US government has said that the reward has been set up to enhance information inflow on cybercriminals that are “acting at the direction or under the control of a foreign government.” Also, the movie is in order to further enhance the security of “protected computers”, which, according to the statement, include the computers used by the US government and financial systems, as well as those employed by interstate or foreign commerce, or communication.

“Inter-agency” partners have also been roped in, to provide for “possible relocation of sources”, as well as the payment of adequate rewards to them. So far, the plans also allow for payments through crypto like Bitcoin or Ether.

This comes as the latest effort that the White House has taken in recent months to step down on and curb the malicious activities that ransomware groups engage in.