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WannaCry Ransomware Hacker Hero Spared Prison Time in UPAS Kit, Kronos Malware Case

TL;DR: Dubbed the accidental hacker hero in helping to stop the WannaCry ransomware plague back in 2017, Marcus Hutchins was sentenced today to one year of supervised release for his role in developing the UPAS Kit backdoor and Kronos banking malware.  

Hacker Hero Spared Prison Time in UPAS Kit, Kronos Malware Case

Four months after being lauded a hero for accidentally stopping the spread of WannaCry malware by registering a domain name (which acted as a kind of killswitch), Hutchins was indicted on malware problems of his own. WannaCry, however, was blamed on North Korea and spread around the world, forcing giant government services and businesses offline for ransom to be paid in bitcoin. Hutchins stepped out from cheers of thanks and into the waiting arms of federal agents.

Hutchins, a British citizen, was soon after arrested in Las Vegas trying to board a flight back after a popular cybersecurity conference, DefCon. Officials alleged he’d developed banking malware, called Kronos, that snaps up account information from infected browsers. They also believed he was responsible for yet another piece of backdoor malware, UPAS Kit. At least in the Kronos case, authorities claimed, Hutchins had indeed profited.

After some protestations to the contrary, he eventually pled guilty to making and selling the malware, and in return more than half a dozen other related charges were dropped. Hutchins faced 10 years in prison and a half million dollar fine. A federal court judge in Milwaukee today, according to TechCrunch, took into account Hutchins’ good work in the WannaCry affair along with his contrition, sentencing the now 25-year-old to time served with a year of supervisory release.

In recent months, Hutchins has taken to acting as a kind of hacking instructor by the name of MalwareTech, streaming his work, offering hints and tips for better security. The judge took notice, “It’s going to take the people like [Hutchins] with your skills to come up with solutions because that’s the only way we’re going to eliminate this entire subject of the woefully inadequate security protocols,” TechCrunch quoted.

DISCLOSURE: The author holds cryptocurrency as part of his financial portfolio, including BCH. 

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