FBI arrests expert who helped disable WannaCry
SAN FRANCISCO: A cybersecurity researcher widely credited with helping to neutralise the global “WannaCry” ransomware attack earlier this year has been arrested on unrelated hacking charges, according to court documents unsealed on Thursday.
Marcus Hutchins, a 23-year-old British-based malware researcher who gained attention in May for detecting a “kill switch” that effectively disabled the WannaCry worm, was detained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Las Vegas on Wednesday, a United States Justice Department spokesman said.
He was among tens of thousands of hackers who had descended on the city during the annual Black Hat and Def Con conventions.
An indictment filed in a US district court in Wisconsin accused Hutchins, also known online as “MalwareTech”, of advertising, distributing and profiting from malware code known as “Kronos” that stole online banking credentials and credit card data.
Hutchins’ alleged activity took place between July 2014 and July 2015, according to the indictment.
Hutchins, who faced six counts related to Kronos, was indicted along with an unnamed co-defendant on July 12, but the case remained under seal until Thursday, a day after his arrest.
Hutchins appeared before US judge Nancy Koppe in Las Vegas on Thursday.
Dan Coe, a federal public defender, told the court Hutchins “had cooperated with the government prior to being charged”.
The hearing was scheduled to continue yesterday afternoon to determine whether he would be represented by private legal counsel or a public defender.
Kronos malware downloaded from email attachments left victims’ systems vulnerable to theft of banking and credit card credentials, which could be used to siphon money from bank accounts.
The Justice Department said Kronos was used to steal banking systems credentials in Canada, Germany and other countries. Reuters Firefighters putting out a forest fire in Verin, northwestern Spain, yesterday. The fire broke out on Thursday. Authorities activated a ‘situation 2’ alert due to the closeness to population centres and main roads.