The British cyber security researcher and WannaCry ransomware hero Marcus Hutchin was initially facing up to 10 years in a US prison.
In 2017, the IT security researcher 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, in April 2019, he pleaded guilty to two charges related to writing the malware between July 2012 and September 2016.
“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,” Hutchins said in a statement on his website after the plea deal was announced. “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 [PDF] acquired by HackRead in April this year, Hutchins was charged with 10 counts out of which 8 were later dropped. Initially, He was now facing up to 10 years in a US prison and a fine up to $500,000 ($250,000 each count).
However, in a sudden turn of events on Friday 27th, U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller sentenced Marcus Hutchins to time served, with a year of supervised release. This means Hutchins is now a free man and won’t be serving any additional time in prison.
While referring to WannaCry ransomware attack, Judge Stadtmueller said the malware Hutchins stopped was way more damaging than the one he wrote.
Hutchins thanked the judge and his lawyers on Twitter in the following words
“Sentenced to time served! Incredibly thankful for the understanding and leniency of the judge, the wonderful character letter you all sent, and everyone who helped me through the past two years, both financially and emotionally.”
“I’d like to also dedicate a tweet to thanking my amazing lawyers: @brianeklein , @marciahofmann , and Daniel Stiller. They provided this help pro bono; I’m forever in debt.”
— MalwareTech (@MalwareTechBlog) July 26, 2019
Good luck Mr. MalwareTech!