It’s your worst nightmare. Your financial documents, your unfinished novel, your nudes. All
your files. Locked. Under the control of an anonymous hacker, held for ransom.
By now I’m sure you’ve heard of WannaCry, the ransomware that hacked nearly 200,000
Windows PCs in one weekend. And we’re not just talking about your grandmothers’ old
desktop, this ransomware outbreak forced the British NHS (Natianal Health Service) to
stop surgeries and close hospitals.
If you’ve heard of WannaCry, you’ve probably heard of Marcus Hutchins, aka MalwareTech.
He’s the British security analyst who found the “kill switch” that stopped the cyberattack.
More specifically, he registered a domain that was included in the WannaCry code, which
stopped the spread of the virus.
After a heroic effort like that, you’d think average citizens and governments alike would
be tripping over themselves trying to thank him. They’re not.
Where’s Marcus now?
Against his will.
Detained by the FBI
MalwareTech Detained After DefCon
Hutchins traveled to Las Vegas for DefCon, one of the world’s largest hacker conventions,
and was arrested at McCarran International Airport as he attempted to return to the U.K.
Hutchins, along with an unnamed codefendant, has been indicted on six counts of hacking-
related charges for the writing and distribution of the Kronos virus between 2014-2015.
Kronos was distributed through emails with attachments that held compromised Microsoft
Word documents. Once these attachments were opened, cyber-attackers were able to
steal banking credentials and money from victims.
This “banking trojan” was made available on a Russian underground forum for the low price
of $7,000. There was even an option to take the malware for a 7 day test drive before purchasing. With the capabilities Kronos boasted, the potential ROI was too high to pass
Hutchins Posts Bail, but Can’t Leave U.S
Hutchins’ hearing took place at a Las Vegas courtroom on August 4.He plead not guilty, and
was released on $30,000 bail the following Monday (August 7).The nice folks from the
courthouse even gave him a GPS anklet. How Sweet.
If you’ve made it to this point in the article, I’m sure you have an opinion.
Maybe you think he did it. I don’t blame you. It’s not exactly far-fetched for a 23-year-
old security savant to design a piece of malware. So what if he pled not guilty. I would too
if I was facing 40 years in a foreign prison.
Maybe you believe Hutchins is innocent. According to Adrian Lobo, his defense attorney,
“he has dedicated his life to researching malware, not to try to harm people. He has
tremendous community support, local and abroad and in the computer world.” Granted, if
she said anything other than this, she wouldn’t be doing her job.
Maybe you fit the stylish hacker archetype and you’re just here for a premium WannaCry
Whatever your motive, stay tuned. The Hutchins story is still developing. One way or
another, this case will set a precedent for how computer fraud cases are handled in the
P.S. If you are here for a premium tee, please don’t wear it to a hacking conference. It
might attract more attention than you planned.