The U.S. State Department announced Wednesday that it will offer a reward of up to $10 million if any information leads to any information that leads to any interference in the U.S. election through “illegal cyber activity” that interferes with anyone who cooperates with or works for a foreign government,media ZDNet reported. This includes attacks on U.S. election officials, U.S. election infrastructure, voting machines, and attacks on candidates and their staff.
With less than 100 days to go until the 2020 U.S. presidential election, incumbent President Donald Trump will face off against Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Still, the State Department says the reward is valid for any form of election hacking, as is the case at any level, such as elections held at the federal, state or local level.
“Foreign adversaries may use malicious cyber operations against electoral infrastructure, including voter registration databases and voting machines, to undermine The U.S. election,” the State Department said Wednesday, describing its concerns and attempts to block the attack. “Such adversaries may also engage in malicious cyber operations against U.S. political organizations or campaigns to steal confidential information and then disclose it as part of an effort to undermine the influence of political organizations or candidates.”
The U.S. State Department said its goal was to catch and prosecute any foreign state-sponsored hackers, describing the ability of foreign state-sponsored hackers to interfere in U.S. elections as “an unusual and exceptional threat to U.S. national security and foreign policy.”
The reward will be paid through the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program, which only provides information about hacking activities related to foreign governments that may be trying to interfere in the U.S. election process — not any hackers.
This is the third major reward for providing hacking information through the Justice Rewards program. In April, U.S. officials offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the identification and capture of North Korean government hackers. U.S. officials have found that North Korean hackers have been responsible for a number of economic-focused cyberattacks in recent years, most of which are outside the normal intelligence gathering that most countries quietly accept.
In addition, in July, the U.S. State Department offered a second major reward for foreign hackers, when it offered a $1 million reward for providing information about two Ukrainian hackers in connection with a 2016 U.S. Security and Trade Commission breach.