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MalwareTech, the Security Researcher Who Stopped WannaCry Ransomware, Gets No Prison Time for Hacking Crimes

Marcus Hutchins, the 25-year-old researcher who helped stop the dangerous malware WannaCry on its tracks, gets a sentence of served time and will not go to prison.

by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai
Jul 26 2019, 5:38pm

Image: Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai/VICE

Marcus Hutchins, a security researcher who gained worldwide notoriety for helping stop the disruptive and viral WannaCry malware, was sentenced to time served and supervised release on Friday, according to reporters who were present at the hearing.

The researcher, also known as MalwareTech, plead guilty to two counts of hacking in April for his role in the making of the Kronos banking malware when he was a teenager.

The feds arrested Hutchins in 2017 after he traveled to Las Vegas for a hacking conference, just a few weeks after he and a colleague at the time created a so-called “sinkhole” that stopped the spread of WannaCry. Some news reports hailed Hutchins as a “hero” at the time, a label he shied away from. His arrest captivated and sometimes stirred controversy within the cybersecurity industry, with some confused as to why US prosecutors were going after Hutchins for crimes committed years prior.

The two counts of hacking crimes Hutchins pleaded guilty to each carried a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, $250,000 in fines, and up to 1 year of supervised release. The judge weighed his role in stopping WannaCry, as well as the prosecutor’s failure to show how much damage Kronos actually made, in giving Hutchins a lower sentence.

After Hutchins’ guilty plea, The New York Times’ Sarah Jeong argued that the researcher deserved a pardon, given his contributions as a cybersecurity professional in the years after he was involved in creating Kronos.

With his sentence of time served, Hutchins will not spend any time in prison; he has spent the majority of his time since being arrested in Los Angeles with an ankle monitor.

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