US offers bounties on election-interfering nation state hackers

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US offers bounties on election-interfering nation state hackers

Rewards of up to US$10 million on the table.

The United States government will pay up to US$10 million for information on nation state hackers and cyber saboteurs that threaten - or actually - interfere in the upcoming local and federal elections this year.

Under the existing Rewards for Justice programme, set up in 1984 and administered by the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service, the US government is now offering rewards for anyone who can supply information leading to the identification or location of people who work with or for foreign governments and are involved in illegal cyber activities for election interefence.

Successful tip-offs can earn informants up to US$10 million.

Data breach security vendor Upgard's director of risk Chris Vickery welcomed the announcement.

"Seems like a great approach to both incentivise doing the right thing as well as reduce the potential for adversaries to attempt bribing witnesses into silence," Vickery told iTnews.

"That’s a nice reward amount they’re offering. It’s an odd situation though when the illegal activity they are seeking information on is activity which, in a sense, can result in strong influence over the DoJ itself," he added.

"We live in strange times, but I’m glad to see any effort at promoting justice," 

Overseas government actors have been accused of interference in the US elections since 2016, when Donald Trump won the presidency.

Russian diplomats were expelled in 2016 by order of then president Barack Obama for hacking US political groups, and for election interference.

The issue has been a major concern since then, especially since the US is embracing e-voting with internet-connected machines that security experts say are vulnerable to hacking.

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