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Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaking at a summit on July 13 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Jim Watson/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department said Thursday it's offering up to a $10 million reward for information to help identify or locate anyone engaged in foreign state-sanctioned malicious cyber activities, including ransomware operations, against critical infrastructure in the United States.

Why it matters: The Biden administration is devising a collection strategies to get ahead of cyber criminals after several U.S. businesses have been ambushed by a flood of ransomware campaigns.

  • The reward is part of the department's Rewards for Justice program, which has paid more than $200 million to people who gave information that helped prevent terrorism and resolved national security threats against the U.S.

What they're saying: The department said it has set up a website on the dark web through which potential sources can offer tips anonymously.

  • The information will then be processed and evaluated, and reward payments may include cryptocurrency, it noted.

The big picture: The White House has formed a governmental task force to coordinate measures to prevent and retaliate against ransomware operations.

  • The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security also launched a new website Thursday, StopRansomware.gov, that will serve as a centralized hub for ransomware resources for victims.
  • The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network is now working with banks and tech companies to crack down on cryptocurrency money-laundering schemes and to improve the tracing of ransomware payments, according to AP.

Go deeper: Assessing the size of the Kaseya ransomware attack

Go deeper

Google creates cybersecurity team to help respond to attacks

A Google logo at the company's offices in Berlin in August 2021. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Google announced Tuesday it has created a new cybersecurity team to help respond to and prevent cyberattacks against governments, critical infrastructure managers and other crucial companies.

Why it matters: It said the creation of the team is in response to the recent surge in cyber and ransomware attacks, including the ransomware attempt against the Colonial Pipeline in May and the sprawling SolarWinds breach, which was uncovered in December 2020 but likely existed for months before its discovery.

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker