The State Department has amended a dark web program that offers rewards for turning in malicious hackers to include payment in cryptocurrency.
The U.S. State Department has updated a program that offers rewards for information leading to the capture of malicious hackers to include payment in cryptocurrency, CNN reported
The four decade old Reward for Justice targets hackers “acting at the direction or under the control of a foreign government.”
This does not just mean espionage. The rewards of up to $10 million are for information that leads to the “identification or location” of anyone who “participates in malicious cyber activities against U.S. critical infrastructure,” according to
a State Department website.
Among the activities targeted are ransomware
, system intrusions to steal data
, and destructive attacks
such as viruses that intentionally cause damage to a “protected computer.”
The definition of a protected computer is extremely broad, including “not only U.S. government and financial institution computer systems, but also those used in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce or communication.”
The cryptocurrency payments became necessary when the Rewards for Justice program began accepting tips on the dark web
, using powerful Tor encryption
that would let informants act without revealing their identity. This was done specifically “to protect the safety and security of potential sources.”
The State Department not only offers cash or crypto rewards. Informants can be eligible for relocation as well.
"Within our program there's a tremendous amount of enthusiasm because we're really pushing the envelope every chance we get to try and reach audiences, sources, people who may have information that helps improve our national security," a State Department official told CNN. "It's been edgy for some government agencies, perhaps, but we're going to keep pushing forward in many different ways."
The Dark Web crypto rewards programs comes as the Biden Administration has stepped up accusations that both Russian and Chinese government hackers
have been successfully getting into U.S. computers. The Russian government has also been accused
of influencing U.S. elections, including the 2020 presidential campaign.