Hacking

Why The FBI Arrested the Hacker Who Saved the World From WannaCry

He stopped a global ransomware heist, but the feds just wanted to flip him.

by Ben Makuch
08 August 2019, 8:57pm

Two years ago, Marcus Hutchins, better known by his hacker name ‘MalwareTech,’ was at the Las Vegas International Airport awaiting his flight back home to the United Kingdom (UK). He was hungover and coming back from Def Con, the biggest hacker conference in the world.

And that’s when the feds came in and nabbed him.

But earlier that same year the 23-year-old security researcher was hailed as a global hero for stopping the spread of the WannaCry ransomware worm, which disabled companies and even paralyzing computer systems in hospitals in the UK. But instead of accolades from the state, he found himself facing an FBI indictment.

The U.S. government accused Hutchins of creating and conspiring to distribute a banking malware called Kronos in 2014, when he was 19. His arrest enthralled the cybersecurity community and set off a legal fight that finally ended just last week. Hutchins, who was potentially facing years in prison, was free and sentenced to time served.

It has been a two year journey for Hutchins and on this week’s CYBER, Marcy Wheeler, an acclaimed journalist who covers national security, will tell us all about his ordeal and what his case has done to stoke the fears of the FBI within the infosec community.

This article originally appeared on VICE US.