Marcus Hutchins, a British cyber-security researcher will appear in court in Las Vegas after being arrested on Wednesday 2nd August 2017 after he was accused of being involved with a piece of malware.
Mr Hutchins – a 23-year-old man from Ilfracombe, Somerset – has been charged by the FBI for his alleged role in creating a successful malware programme known as Kronos which is most commonly used to steal banking login details from victims’ computers. Prior to his arrest, he had been visiting the United States by attending the Black Hat and Def Con cyber-security conferences in Las Vegas.
It has been alleged that he created and sold Kronos via internet forums, including the AlphaBay dark web market recently been shut down by an international law enforcement operation. According to the US Department of Justice (DoJ), the Eastern District of Wisconsin returned a six-count indictment against him with the charges relating to alleged conduct which took place between July 2014 and July 2015.
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre has since stated that it is aware of the situation which has led to both fellow cyber-security researchers and members of Mr Hutchins’ family to express their surprise at his arrest.
Mr Hutchins initially came to national prominence after he helped stall the May 2017 ‘WannaCry’ cyber-attack on the NHS by identifying and activating a “kill switch” in the malware which prevented it from spreading any further.
“Mr Hutchins’ arrest is surprising and he is entitled to the presumption of innocence. Cybercrime investigations are by nature technical and complex and it certainly is not unknown for law enforcement agencies to arrest individuals on a suspicion that later turns out to be entirely mistaken. It is imperative that investigators keep an open mind.
“If there is evidence to support the US allegation then the case raises issues of the extent to which it is appropriate to prosecute individuals for cybercrimes committed in the past in circumstances where they are now reformed and in the case of Mr Hutchins have made a successful and positive contribution to society.
“One difficulty faced by individuals who may at one time have been engaged in illegal activity online is that evidence of their actions can be preserved almost indefinitely and can resurface many years after the event.”
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