Marcus Hutchins, the security researcher who helped neutralize the virulent WannaCry ransomware worm, has pleaded guilty to federal charges of creating and distributing malware used to break into online bank accounts.
"I regret these actions and accept full responsibility for my mistakes, "Hutchins wrote in a short post." Having grown up, I've been using the same skills for years.
Hutchins was changed in August 2017 with creating Kronos, a banking trojan that stole online bank account passwords from infected computers. A superseding indictment filed 10 months later charged him with 10 felony counts that created a second piece of malware called UPAS Kit. Hutchins, whose online persona MalwareTech attracts more than 143,000 followers on Twitter, had a league of vocal defenders claiming allegations were false.
In a plea agreement filed in federal court Friday, Hutchins pleaded guilty to two of the 10 counts. One count charged him with distributing Kronos, while the other charged him with conspiracy. Prosecutors agreed to drop the remainder of their case.
- The conspiracy as charged existed;
- The defendant knowingly became a member of the conspiracy with the intent to advance the conspiracy;
- And one of the
Hutchins faces 10 years in prison at sentencing.
Hutchins became an online luminary in security circles in May 2017 after being logged a domain that stopped the spread of WannaCry, a quick-spreading ransomware worm that had been shutting down computers all over the world.
As WannaCry was spreading, Hutchins noticed at unregistered domain referenced in the code , Without knowing exactly what the role played, Hutchins registered it. He has just discovered that the developer has released the worm from spreading.
Hutchins' subsequent arrest was broken off. Throughout the case, Hutchins sternly professed his innocence, describing the charges as "bullshit" when the superseding indictment was filed. KrebsOnSecurity reporter Brian Krebs dug into various online dating personas that appeared to be committed to the researcher and concluded he did have a criminal past. Defenders continued to say they were false.