The US State Department (DOS) is trying to halt cybercrime in the country with a new initiative for the Rewards for Justice (RFJ) program. Consequently, it will offer up to $10 million in cryptocurrencies to anyone who can provide information leading to the identification of state-backed hackers.
DOS Targeting Black Hat Attendants
Last week, hackers and cybersecurity experts attended the famous cyber conference Black Hat Briefings. The State Department promoted the program through a QR code stamped on flyers and T-shirts so attendants could scan it, taking them to the RFJ page with all the information about the reward.
Participants can access the RFJ channel through TOR, a browser that enables anonymous research and communication. DOS officers believe the dark web and using modern technologies – referring to cryptocurrencies and blockchain – are suitable tools for them.
“Something on the Dark Web that allows total anonymity and an initial level of security is probably more appropriate for those folks.
So just finding people where they are and reaching them with the technology on which they are most comfortable, I think, is the name of the game for Rewards for Justice.” Said an official from the State Department on an interview for CNN
US Reinforcing Cybersecurity Amid Concerns of Foreign Hackers
The DOS quietly announced a month ago after the Biden administration decided it was time to reinforce the country’s cybersecurity.
The administration has accused Russian and Chinese authorities of employing hackers to breach multiple US federal agencies and departments. The difference is now that in four decades in the history of the RFJ, informants can choose to be paid in crypto.
“We provide wire transfers, we actually can still deliver – and do deliver – suitcases full of cash, we can provide in-kind rewards. And now a recipient will be able to choose whichever cryptocurrency they like.”
DOS officers didn’t disclose what other use cases for cryptocurrencies the government has. Yet, they have made it clear that the Biden administration is still inclined to track crypto transactions for “cybersecurity reasons.” Similarly, the FBI did when it retrieved over 2.1 million in BTC paid as ramson by the US oil behemoth Colonial Pipeline.
The Biden administration has been keen to impose stricter regulations around cryptocurrencies by supporting the Warner amendment, which causes more damage than solutions to the poorly-written infrastructure bill.
And despite the fact that Warner and several Democrat Senators like Cynthia Lumis and Pat Toomey joined to make a new and revised amendment, it failed to reach an agreement thanks to Senator Richard Shelby, who stubbornly opposed the proposal.
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