WannaCry hero pleads guilty to malware charges

WannaCry hero pleads guilty to malware charges

Marcus Hutchins who authors the popular blog MalwareTech, the famous British cybersecurity expert credited with stopping the WannaCry attack in 2017, now faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty on Monday to writing malware to steal banking information in the years prior to his prodigious career as a malware researcher.

Hutchins stated on his website that he has “pleaded guilty to two charges related to writing malware” and added that he now regrets those actions.

Marcus posted a statement on his website and on his Twitter feed too, “I regret these actions and accept full responsibility for my mistakes. Having grown up, I’ve since been using the same skills that I misused several years ago for constructive purposes. I will continue to devote my time to keeping people safe from malware attacks.”

Hutchins is a rare talent who has since fallen from the heights of his reputation, after having been associated with multiple malware developments and ransomware cases, as well as lying to the FBI.

Federal prosecutors in Wisconsin and Marcus Hutchins’ attorneys said in a joint court filing Friday that the 24-year-old agreed to plead guilty to developing malware called Kronos and conspiring to distribute it from 2012 to 2015. In exchange for his plea to those charges, prosecutors dismissed eight more.

Marcus was virtually unknown to most in the security community until May 2017 when the UK media revealed him as the “accidental hero” who inadvertently halted the global spread of WannaCry, a ransomware contagion that had taken the world by storm just days before. Hutchins’ arrest in Las Vegas in August 2017, as he was about to board a flight to England, came as a shock. At the time, he told The Associated Press in an interview that he didn’t consider himself a hero but that he was combating malware because “it’s the right thing to do.”

According to security experts, the malware could have infected many more systems worldwide had Hutchins not stemmed the spread of the infection after a spotting a weakness in WannaCry’s code. 

Hutchins could receive a more lenient sentence for accepting responsibility, the court filing said. Attorneys said Hutchins understands he could be deported. The sentencing has not been scheduled.

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