RISK: FBI putting bounties on cyber criminals’ heads

Countries with whom the U.S. have no formal extradition treaties may be reluctant to turn over hackers for prosecution

When the U.S. government can’t find a high profile cyber criminal, they might put a price on his or her head. Unable to catch Russian master hacker Evgeniy Bogachev since his indictment more than 10 months ago, the FBI is now offering a $3 million reward for information leading to his capture.

Officials say they will offer rewards to catch other international hackers whose whereabouts are unknown or who are staying in countries with which the U.S. has few diplomatic ties.

Countries like Russia and China, with whom the U.S. has no formal extradition treaty, may be reluctant to turn over hackers for prosecution. U.S. officials say they hope that as more countries are harmed by international cybercrime, there will be fewer sanctuaries for such criminals. There’s also the chance that criminals become careless over time and travel to countries where they can be arrested.

“It can be a long, cold winter in Russia. A lot of these people have a lot of money. It’s pretty tempting to travel somewhere warmer,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, chief of the Justice Department’s criminal division, told the Associated Press.

While rewards can attract tips, negotiations among governments is also necessary to deter attacks, says Shawn Henry, a retired executive assistant director of the FBI and president of security technology company CrowdStrike Services.

“Time will tell whether this is a successful tactic or not,” says Henry. “It’s a strategy, and it’s certainly not the sole strategy.”

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