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Security & privacy

Suspect someone of hacking the US government? There’s $10M in reward money on the line

Hackers are a persistent threat to anyone with an internet connection, but some widen their scope to target companies, militaries and governments. When this happens the risk spreads to anyone connected to that network and beyond.

A recent attack on a U.S.-based IT management software company affected thousands of companies and organizations that employ the victim’s services. The hackers demanded $70 million to release their hold. Tap or click here for more details on this massive ransomware attack.

Now, the U.S. State Department is taking measures to combat foreign cybercriminals by offering a large reward. Read on for details on how you could cash in big time.

Here’s the backstory

The U.S. State Department is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information on any people who commit cyberattacks against “U.S. critical infrastructure” under the direction of a foreign government. The Rewards for Justice (RFJ) program was recently announced on the State Department’s official website.

The type of activity specified violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). This includes ransomware attacks, obtaining information from a protected computer via unauthorized access and transmitting information (including programs and codes) with the intention to cause damage. Protected computers include those of the U.S. government, financial institutions and those involved in “interstate or foreign commerce or communication.”

How to report a cybercrime

The RFJ program has a Dark Web (Tor-based) tips-reporting channel to protect the identity of anyone who has a tip. The organization is also teaming up with “interagency partners” to process the information and payment. The press release notes that payment may include cryptocurrency.

Visit for more information on the RFJ program. If you have information on foreign cybercrime against the U.S. that you believe is in violation of the CFAA, you can contact the RFJ office via the Tor-based channel. Note: You will need a Tor browser to access the site.

Ways to protect yourself

If you think you’ve been part of a hack or breach, visit HaveIBeenPwned and enter your email address or phone number then click the pwned? button. The results will tell you if you’ve been compromised. Tap or click here for more information.

Back up your critical data regularly in case you become the victim of a ransomware attack. Even if you pay up, you may never get your files back, so keep them safe ahead of the fact. Tap or click here to find out why you need to be using a cloud backup for all your devices.

Keep your operating systems, browsers and apps up to date. Developers include security patches and upgrades in their updates and it’s critical you have these files.

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