US Government offers bounty in Bitcoin to fight cybercrimes

    24 Jul 2021

    The U.S. Department of State is first offering to pay a bounty in crypto worth up to $10 million (315 BTC) in exchange for relevant intelligence regarding cyberattacks organized by foreign governments. The Rewards for Justice program operated by the Diplomatic Security Service was announced in a July 15 statement.

    The payment would be provided by the federal agency to anyone who can give “information leading to the identification or location of any person who, while acting at the direction or under the control of a foreign government, participates in malicious cyber activities against U.S. critical infrastructure,” said in the press statement, adding: “Reward payments may include payments in cryptocurrency.”

    In a commentary to Coindesk, an agency spokesperson confirmed that this does “the first time since its establishment in 1984 that the Rewards for Justice program has offered a reward payment in cryptocurrency”.

    Wanted lists with cash rewards are also released by the FBI and the U.S. immigration agency (ICE), but neither federal entity has publicly offered payments in Cryptocurrency before.

    Also, the agency asked informants to contact by an anonymized TOR channel on the Dark Web, the one more unusual approach for officials’ bodies. If broader adopted, this government policy should be promising to result in a significant surge of intelligence inflow.

    According to software security firm McAfee, cybercrimes costs more than $1tr annually to the global economy (around 1% of global GDP).

    Massive ransomware attacks, reportedly linked with Russia, halted the operations of thousands of companies in the U.S. in the last months. As reported before, U.S. law enforcement officials recovered $2.3 million in Bitcoin paid to criminal cybergroup DarkSide involved in the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline.


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