A cyber security researcher widely credited with helping to neutralize the global “WannaCry” ransomware attack earlier this year has been arrested on unrelated hacking charges, according to court documents unsealed on Thursday, August 3, Reuters reveals.
Marcus Hutchins, a 23-year-old British-based malware researcher who gained attention in May for detecting a “kill switch” that effectively disabled the WannaCry worm, was detained by the FBI in Las Vegas on Wednesday, a U.S. Justice Department spokesman said. He was among tens of thousands of hackers who had descended on the city during the annual Black Hat and Def Con conventions.
An indictment filed in a U.S. District Court in Wisconsin accused Hutchins, also known online as “MalwareTech,” of advertising, distributing and profiting from malware code known as “Kronos” that stole online banking credentials and credit card data. Hutchins’ alleged activity took place between July 2014 and July 2015, according to the indictment.
Hutchins, who faces six counts related to Kronos, was indicted along with an unnamed co-defendant on July 12, but the case remained under seal until Thursday, a day after his arrest.
Hutchins appeared before U.S. Judge Nancy Koppe in Las Vegas on Thursday. Dan Coe, a federal public defender, told the court Hutchins “had cooperated with the government prior to being charged.”
The hearing was scheduled to continue Friday afternoon to determine whether he will be represented by private legal counsel or a public defender.
Hutchins showed no emotion as Koppe read the charges against him.