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‘Phineas Fisher,’ an anonymous hacktivist, has released a manifesto addressed to hackers in which he offers a reward of up to $100K in cryptocurrency to anyone who carries out politically motivated attacks.
The bounty operation is called “Hacktivist Bug Hunting Program” and the idea is to incentivize hackers to perform cyber-attacks that could result in leakage of documents that are in the public interest. Phineas Fisher mentions in his document that he would be paying the hackers in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin(BTC)trade or Monero (XMR).
The manifesto mentions a number of potential targets that hackers could attack to leak information in the public interest. These included mining and livestock companies in South America, the Israeli spyware vendor NSO Group, and the oil company Halliburton.
Although Fisher has never been identified, he/she/they have often been in the news for orchestrating high-profile cyber attacks that include a recent attack on Cayman National Bank from the Isle of Man, near the United Kingdom. According to the manifesto, Fisher had robbed the bank and given away most of the money. Part of the stolen money would also be used to pay the hackers to which the manifesto is addressed. “Computer hacking is a powerful tool to fight economic inequality,” Fisher asserts.
No One Knows Who Is/Are Phineas Fisher
Fisher could be a pseudonym for an individual hacker or a proper team of hackers; we do not know that for now. What is known about Fisher is that he/she/they always target organizations of significant proportion. And the underlying motivation, which is also stressed in the manifesto, is that through these attacks, valuable information which is beneficial for the public is released.
In the manifesto, Fisher state:
“Hacking to obtain and leak documents with public interest is one of the best ways for hackers to use their abilities to benefit society […] I’m not trying to make anyone rich. I’m just trying to provide enough funds so that hackers can make a decent living doing a good job.”
The attack on Cayman National Bank was the fifth hack claimed by Phineas Fisher. After extensive investigation, the bank itself came out to acknowledge that its digital infrastructure had in fact been breached.
Leveraging on the reputation built through successful security breaches, Fisher is rallying hackers to shift their attention to cyber attacks that could benefit society. In recent times, seldom do we hear about high-profile cyber-attacks.
Most of the hackers have simply shifted their attention to earning their bucks by cooperating with giant companies by exposing the bugs in their software. Fisher’s offer for a bounty in cryptocurrency may create a disruption in that pattern and generate more news stories regarding cyber breaches and consequently, more hacking attempts.