United Kingdom 'cyber-hero' Marcus Hutchins charged in U.S. hacking case

Geronimo Vena
Agosto 5, 2017

Hutchins was detained in Las Vegas on his way back to Britain from an annual gathering of hackers and information security gurus.

Andrew Mabbitt, a British digital security specialist who had been staying in Las Vegas with Hutchins, said he and his friends grew anxious when they got "radio silence" from Hutchins for hours.

The indictment, filed in a Wisconsin federal court last month, alleges that Hutchins and another defendant - whose name is redacted - conspired between July 2014 and July 2015 to advertise the availability of the Kronos malware on internet forums, sell the malware and profit from it.

Marcus Hutchins was credited with finding a kill switch to the WannaCry virus.

A Justice Department spokesman confirmed the 22-year-old Hutchins was arrested Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Hutchins faces six counts, including conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud United States; fraud and related activity in connection with computers; interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications prohibited; manufacture, distribution, possession and advertising of wire, oral, or communication intercepting devices prohibited.

He was indicted along with an unnamed co-defendant on July 12, but the case remained under seal until Thursday, a day after his arrest. The US Department of Justice announced in July that the AlphaBay "darknet" marketplace was shut down after an worldwide law enforcement effort.

Hutchins was in Las Vegas for Def Con, an annual cybersecurity conference that ended Sunday. He was being held at the Henderson Detention Center in Nevada early Thursday.

Kronos malware downloaded from e-mail attachments left victims' systems vulnerable to theft of banking and credit card credentials, which could have been used to siphon money from bank accounts.

- The Kronos indictment: Is it a crime to create and sell malware? Investigators stated that the site allowed anonymous users to participate in the global trade of drugs, firearms, hacking tools and other illegal goods.

Mabbitt said he eventually found Hutchins' name on a detention centre website. "He spent his career stopping malware, not writing it".

Hutchins was heralded within the cyber security community as an overnight folk hero for his apparent role in neutralising the WannaCry attack, which infected hundreds of thousands of computers and caused disruptions at vehicle factories, hospitals, shops and schools in more than 150 countries.

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