The State Department has launched a new initiative offering up to $10 million to informants with information on state-backed hackers, reports ABC News. For the first time in the Reward for Justice (RFJ) program’s almost four decades, informants could elect to receive payments in cryptocurrency and reach out to the US government with sensitive information through a secure portal on the Dark Web. The goal of RFJ’s new reward is to solicit helpful information from the type of hackers who might know people involved in state-backed operations.
The new cryptocurrency reward offer, from a program typically associated with rewards for terrorists, says that up to $10 million can be paid for the identification or location of a state-backed hacker attacking US government systems and critical infrastructure like water, power or transportation. The RFJ channel can be accessed using Tor, the most common browser for the Dark Web, which is a hidden part of the internet that regular search engines don’t see. In the weeks since the channel opened up, tips about malicious cyber actors have already come in, the officials said. Experts who analyze and engage with malicious cyber actors say it remains to be seen whether a potential windfall of millions will resonate with those inclined to inform on sophisticated hackers employed by powerful countries like China and Russia. More reward offers on cybersecurity can be expected “very soon,” and the use of cryptocurrency is also expected to expand.