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January 2004

Examining hacker bounty pros and cons: Do they stop computer hackers?

A $100,000 bounty awaited the tipster who provided the crucial info leading to the arrest of a Wells Fargo computer thief. Edward Jonathan Krastof of Concord, Calif., faces charges of stealing computers from a Wells Fargo subsidiary that contained sensitive account-holder data. But the $100,000 reward posted by the bank will remain uncollected, because police used good old-fashioned shoe leather to solve the crime. The Internet is repeatedly compared to the Old Wild West, mostly because of its sprawling growth, its lack of governance and rampant unchecked crime. Like the prairie sheriffs of lore, contemporary enterprises are turning to cash bounties to draw out tips that lead to the capture of the hackers and script-kiddies who plague their digital trading posts. That's where the analogy ends. Unlike the bandits of the western frontier, hackers are less susceptible to the good citizen who comes forward with the location of a hideout. First, it's a misnomer that hackers want to destroy the Internet. It's their playground, and ...

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