The Cybersecurity 202: Hackers are offering cash to expose scandal-ridden companies. Ethical hackers are concerned.

A controversial activist is rallying other hackers to crack into scandal-ridden companies and spill their secrets — and offering cash rewards for the biggest leaks.

Phineas Fisher is offering up to $100,000 for damaging information about targets including U.S. oil company Halliburton and NSO Group, an Israeli firm that sells software to governments and that critics say helps authoritarian regimes stifle dissent. It’s all part of a “Hacktivist Bug Hunting Program,” as Vice’s Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai reports.

The cash incentive has the potential to reinvigorate the community of hacktivists, which has lagged in recent years with collectives such as Anonymous and LulzSec largely fading from mainstream view.

But it could create serious problems for the community of cybersecurity researchers who’ve spent years trying to distinguish their work from the illegal side of hacking — and have even gotten many companies and government agencies to join programs that welcome ethical hackers to find bugs that could make their products safer. They fear a resurgence of vigilante hackers using their skills for what they perceive as social justice could blur those lines.

Source: Washington Post

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