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Hacker offers $100,000 for leaks of corporate secrets

Phineas Fisher, a pseudonymous hacktivist famous for leaks from high-profile companies, is offering $100,000 for other hackers to steal and leak controversial corporate documents, Motherboard reports.

Why it matters: Hacktivism — hacking for some perceived public benefit — trailed off in recent years as more hackers chose to monetize their skill sets through thievery and ransom schemes. This offer could reincentivize civic-minded computer crime.

The backdrop: Fisher is well-known in the hacker community for leaking documents from two military surveillance contractors (Gamma, which sells Fisher's titular FinFisher spyware, and Hacking Team), Spanish police officers, Turkish politicians and an offshore bank (the Cayman National Bank and Trust).

  • Fisher claims to have money from "recent, undisclosed hacks" that will be used to pay up the bounties.
  • Fisher told Motherboard that examples of corporate leaks that might be awarded include South American livestock and mining companies, surveillance contractors and Halliburton.

What we're thinking: While adding a financial incentive for public interest hacking might inspire activists, it may also have an effect on traditional crime. Criminal hackers often negotiate ransoms not to damage corporate networks; Fisher's bounty could change negotiations, guaranteeing that if a corporation doesn't pay, hackers still can monetize hacking certain targets.

Go deeper: Hacktivism is down 95% since 2015