State Department offers up to $10 million for info on foreign election interference

The State Department announced on Thursday that it is offering up to $10 million for tips about foreign interference in U.S. elections, including illegal cyber activities.

The cash, offered through the department’s Rewards for Justice program, would be for any information that leads to the identification or location of any foreign person or entity “who knowingly engaged or is engaging in foreign election interference.”

Such conduct includes “covert, fraudulent, deceptive, or unlawful acts or attempted acts, or knowing use of information acquired by theft… to influence voters, undermine public confidence in election processes or institutions, or influence, undermine confidence in, or alter the result or reported result of a general or primary federal, states, or local election or caucus,” the department said in a statement.

Actions also include “vote tampering and database intrusions; certain influence, disinformation, and bot farm campaigns; or malicious cyber activities.”

The plea from Foggy Bottom comes as U.S. national security and law enforcement leaders prepare to safeguard the upcoming midterm elections against meddling by foreign adversaries, especially Russia. The department issued a similar $10 million bounty ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Last month, NSA cybersecurity directorate chief Rob Joyce said he was concerned that ransomware and botnets could be deployed to attack November’s election.

“The worry in all of election security is trust and confidence that we’ve delivered a safe and secure election,” Joyce told reporters during a roundtable at the RSA conference in San Francisco. “If elections are subject to ransomware, or if there’s a botnet that runs a denial of service, what you’ll find is that’s probably going to, in this day and age … escalate and be an issue of trust.”

In April, the State Department offered a $5 million reward for information on North Korean state-sponsored hackers. 

A few months prior, the rewards program offered $10 million for details on two Iranian hackers who allegedly took part in state-sponsored cyber operations meant to interfere with the 2020 presidential race.

Martin Matishak

Martin Matishak is a senior cybersecurity reporter for The Record. He spent the last five years at Politico, where he covered Congress, the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community and was a driving force behind the publication's cybersecurity newsletter.

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