WannaCry ‘Kill Switch’ Creator Arrested in Vegas -The security researcher credited with stopping the spread of a massive cyberattack earlier this year has been arrested by the FBI, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
Marcus Hutchins, a 22-year-old England-based researcher who was hailed for finding a “kill switch” that halted the WannaCry malware assault in May, was detained Wednesday by FBI officials in Las Vegas for his role in hatching a banking virus, federal prosecutors said in a statement announcing the six-count indictment.
WannaCry infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide, disrupting businesses and breaching major services — from United Kingdom hospital systems and Russia’s interior ministry to Germany’s rail network and a Spanish telecommunications operator. The virus locked down files and demanded $300 to $600 to restore them.
The news of the arrest was first reported by the tech website Motherboard.
Hutchins, who goes by the online alias “MalwareTech” and works for the Los Angeles-based Kryptos Logic, told the Associated Press in May that hundreds of computer experts rushed into battle against the virus.
“I’m definitely not a hero,” he told the AP. “I’m just someone doing my bit to stop botnets.”
Kryptos Logic chief executive Salim Neino told the AP that his employee’s efforts helped stop the virus in its tracks in Europe — before it could wreak havoc in the U.S.
“Marcus … not only saved the United States but also prevented further damage to the rest of the world,” Neino told the AP in May. “Within a few moments, we were able to validate that there was indeed a kill switch. It was a very exciting moment.”
But now federal prosecutors accuse Hutchins of creating and distributing a banking “trojan,” or malware, called Tronos. The virus was designed to harvest and transfer the usernames and passwords linked with banking websites whenever they were entered on an infected computer.
The indictment, filed in a Wisconsin federal court last month, alleges that Hutchins and another defendant, whose name is redacted, engaged in the alleged conduct between July 2014 and July 2015.