FBI ar­rests ex­pert who helped dis­able Wan­naCry

New Straits Times - - World -

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.

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