The United States has increased its challenge to the scourge of ransomware and cyber attacks against critical infrastructure.
The US State Department announced it is “offering a reward of up to $10 million for 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 US critical infrastructure.”
Earlier this week, websites and other infrastructure belonging to Russian ransomware gang REvil suddenly disappeared from the Internet, prompting speculation of a US takedown after a series of high profile attacks by the group.
Then on Thursday the US State Department offered a $10 million reward for information leading to the identification or location of any hacker targetting US critical infrastructure.
It even set up a dark web tip reporting channel so that people can report hackers to the US authorities.
“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,” said the State Department.
“The RFJ program also is working with interagency partners to enable the rapid processing of information as well as the possible relocation of and payment of rewards to sources,” it added. “Reward payments may include payments in cryptocurrency.”
“We encourage anyone with information on malicious cyber activity, carried out against US critical infrastructure in violation of the CFAA by actors at the direction of or under the control of a foreign government, to contact the Rewards for Justice office via our Tor-based tips-reporting channel,” the department stated.
It pointed out that since its inception in 1984, the Rewards for Justice scheme has paid in excess of $200 million to more than 100 people across the globe who provided actionable information that helped prevent terrorism.
Western patience with attacks originating from Russia is wearing very thin of late.
In May British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned Russia that it cannot continue to shelter criminal gangs carrying out ransomware attacks on Western nations.
And the issue of cyberattacks stemming from either Russian government-linked hackers, or criminal gangs located in Russia featured during face-to-face talks in June between US President Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin.
Biden and Putin spent much of that face-to-face meeting talking about cybersecurity issues, with Biden warning Putin of ‘retaliation’ and an ‘aggressive response’ if Russia attacks a list of 16 ‘critical’ industries in America.
Soon after that, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) head Alexander Bortnikov said that Russia would work together with the United States to locate cyber criminals.
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