The US government says those who offer information that helps fight malicious online activity can now get paid in cryptocurrency.
A statement by the US Department of State says that their Rewards for Justice (RFJ) program is offering up to $10 million for assistance in identifying or locating state-sponsored cybercriminals targeting critical US infrastructure.
The statement adds that the reward can be paid in crypto assets.
“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. Reward payments may include payments in cryptocurrency.”
The statement adds that individuals with valuable information that could help fight state-sponsored cybercrime can report via the Tor browser – an open-source internet application that enables anonymous communication.
The development comes weeks after President Joe Biden’s administration kicked off a “rapid strategic review” aimed at fighting the growing threats of ransomware and other cybercrimes involving cryptocurrencies.
Cybersecurity firm Barracuda Networks revealed earlier this month that the volume of crypto-related cyber attacks has risen as the Bitcoin bull market went into high gear. The size of ransom demands has also grown.
The firm says that in 2019, ransoms typically ranged from a few thousand dollars to $2 million but by mid-2021, the figures had exploded with most demands being at least seven figures and some even over $20 million.
Two months ago, blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis estimated that cybercriminals had netted $81 million from ransomware attacks in the first five months of the year. Chainalysis adds that ransomware attackers received over $400 million last year, representing a 337% increase from 2019 where the bad actors collected $92.94 million.
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