WannaCry hero MalwareTech pleads guilty to writing banking malware

MalwareTech is now facing 10 years in prison.

In 2017, Marcus Hutchin who goes by the Twitter handle of MalwareTech halted the infamous WannaCry ransomware after registering its killswitch domain. As a result, Hutchin was hailed as WannaCry hero but in August the same year, MalwareTech was arrested by the FBI at Las Vegas airport when he was about to catch a flight back to London, his hometown after attending the BlackHat and DefCon hackers conferences.

He was later charged with developing and distributing Kronos banking malware used in stealing banking details of users in the United States. Although MalwareTech initially pleaded not guilty, things have changed now as he has pleaded guilty to two charges related to writing the malware between July 2012 and September 2016.

In a statement on his official website, Hutchin said that:

As you may be aware, I’ve pleaded guilty to two charges related to writing malware in the years prior to my career in security. I regret these actions and accept full responsibility for my mistakes. Having grown up, I’ve since been using the same skills that I misused several years ago for constructive purposes. I will continue to devote my time to keeping people safe from malware attacks.

According to court documents acquired by HackRead, Hutchins was charged with 10 counts out of which 8 were later dropped however, he is now facing up to 10 years in a US prison and a fine up to $500,000 ($250,000 each count). It is worth mentioning that Hutchins pleaded guilty to developing and distribution of the malware.

One of the troubling aspects of Hutchin’s case is that British Intelligence agency GCHQ, knew that the FBI would arrest him anytime he enters the United States. This was quite a shocker that a government agency would let a man who was hailed as a hero around the world fall for the trap. 

The Sunday Times reported that there had been several cases in the past where UK based hackers allegedly hacked targets in the US but in return, the British authorities denied their extradition. Therefore, Hutchins’s arrest would save the government and intelligence agencies from fighting yet another extradition case.

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