Marcus Hutchins: British "hero" ransomware pleads guilty to US hacker accusations | Technology



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A British computer security researcher, who was once hailed as a "hero" for helping to contain an outbreak of ransomware and later accused of creating malware to attack the banking system, said on Friday he pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the USA.

Marcus Hutchins, whose arrest in 2017 surprised the computer security community, acknowledged in a statement that he pleaded guilty to criminal charges linked to his activity in 2014 and 2015.

"I regret these actions and accept full responsibility for my mistakes," wrote 24-year-old Hutchins, known by his codename MalwareTech, noting that charges related to his activity before his work on security.

"Having grown up, I have since used the same skills I have used wrong for several years for constructive purposes. I will continue to devote my time to keeping people safe from malware attacks. "

Hutchins in 2017 found a "kill switch" to stem the spread of the devastating outbreak of ransomware WannaCry, leading to widespread news calling him a hero.

Months later, he was arrested after attending the DefCon meeting for hackers in Las Vegas.

The case sparked criticism from critics who argued that researchers often work with computer codes that can be deployed for malicious purposes.

An open federal indictment in Wisconsin has accused Hutchins and another individual of fabricating and distributing Kronos's "banking trojan," a reference to malicious software designed to steal usernames and passwords used on online banking sites.

According to the indictment, Hutchins was part of a conspiracy to distribute the hacking tool in so-called dark markets.

He was released on bail while awaiting trial, allowing him to continue working for a security firm. He kept his innocence and gained support from many others in his profession.

US prosecutors did not immediately respond to a question about the case. But court papers published by the ZDNet news site showed that Hutchins could get up to a year in jail on each of the criminal charges along with financial penalties.

Other charges in the indictment were dismissed, according to court documents.

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