WannaCry ‘hero’ has been arrested on malware charges

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The cyber expert who managed to successfully stop the WannaCry ransomware attack on the British National Health Service (NHS) has been arrested in America on charges of being involved in crimes relating to Kronos malware. Known as MalwareTech, 23 year old Marcus Hutchins from the UK, was in America for cyber defence conference Def Con.

The US department of justice has confirmed that Hutchins “was arrested in the United States on 2 August, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada, after a grand jury in the Eastern District of Wisconsin returned a six-count indictment against Hutchins for his role in creating and distributing the Kronos banking Trojan.”

Kronos was a malware that harvested people’s bank login details in order to steal money from their accounts. The malware was offered for purchase on cybercriminal forums in 2014 for the not-insignificant sum of $7,000 (£4,100 by the time’s conversion rates). 

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Given Hutchins’s involvement in the cyber security community, this arrest has come as a surprise – particularly to his mother, who told the press association that she had been “frantically calling America” to try and contact Hutchins. 

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As reported by The Guardian, Hutchins was revealed to be working out of his family home when he managed to stop the WannaCry malware attack earlier in the year. At the time, there was something of an outcry in the cyber community that someone who was hailed as a hero was doxxed (a term used to refer to the disclosure of personal information about a user) by the mainstream media who were commending him.

Hutchins managed to stop the attack by registering the domain that the malware was trying to contact. On his blog where he details his actions during the attack, he posits that the URL was being used for the malware to establish whether it was being ‘sandboxed’ (a technique whereby elements of a computer system are kept siloed from other sections for safety).

According to Digital Trends: “A court hearing is expected to take place on Friday aimed at organizing his legal representation.” As we hear more about proceedings we will keep you updated. 

  • Want to know more about the life of an ethical hacker? Check out: Behind the code: a conversation with an ethical hacker
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