Editorial

Hacktivist ‘Bug Hunting’ Programme Cash Offer Raises Bank Security Fears

Controversial online activist Phineas Fisher’s promising $100,000 for anyone willing to hack into certain companies for dirt

Posted 19 November 2019 by

‘Phineas Fisher’ – the self-chosen criminal moniker of someone guilty of multiple corporate data breaches – says he has $100,000 waiting in his bank account he is ready to give anyone prepared to hack oil companies and banks.

The rather disturbing news was raised earlier this week by online news source Vice, which describes the cash as “a reward for hacktivists and criminals who break into capitalist institutions, offered by one of the most infamous hackers of all time”.

“Computer hacking is a powerful tool to fight economic inequality” – Hacktivist ‘Phineas Fisher’

It’s also raising fears of a return of “hacktivism”, a phenomenon that’s largely died down since the days of Anonymous in the last decade.

Specifically, in a manifesto published online called ‘The Hacktivist Bug Hunting Program’, Fisher will pay other hackers who carry out politically motivated hacks against companies that could lead to the disclosure of documents in the public interest.

Fisher says he’s happy to pay in the cryptocurrency of the hacker’s choice, be that Bitcoin or Monero – and he’s even suggesting potential targets, from South American mining and livestock companies, Israeli spyware vendor NSO Group, and oil company Halliburton.

It’s all being framed as part of a Robin Hood-style political agenda, too, with Fisher – who’s real identity remains a secret, despite the best efforts of law authorities across the globe – claiming, “I robbed a bank and gave the money away… Computer hacking is a powerful tool to fight economic inequality.”

Fisher’s mindset is also revealed in another statement in his online boasts: “Privacy for the powerful allows them to evade the limits of a system itself designed to give them privileges [unlike] privacy for the weak, which protects them from a system conceived to exploit them.”

To protect his identity, Fisher – who may be one person or a group – uses a puppet as his public face in interviews.