Expert who beat cyber attack: I'm not a hero

19 Mai, 2017, 22:30 | Author: Marc Bacque
  • British hospitals said they were forced to divert emergencies on Friday after a suspected national cyber attack

A couple of hours after the realise of WannaCry, Marcus Hutchkins accidentally discovered a kill switch in the malware which could stop the attack spreading.

Experts are still trying to figure out who's behind the global software cyber attack.

The attack infected 200,000 machines across 150 countries and Mr Hutchins is now working alongside the National Cyber Security Centre, a part of GCHQ, to identify the hackers.

"I'm definitely not a hero", he told The Associated Press.

He credited hundreds of other computer experts who also worked over the weekend with limiting the spread of the online virus, which took out computers and networks across 150 countries. "I'm just someone doing my bit to stop botnets", he said.

Marcus, from Devon, works for Los Angeles-based Kryptos Logic. He noticed the malware "queried" an unregistered domain address which he bought for around $15. The virus had reached several countries and forced several NHS hospitals in the United Kingdom to switch off their systems.

WannaCry paralyzed computers running mostly older versions of Microsoft Windows by encrypting users' computer files and displaying a message demanding a ransom of $400 to $820 to release them; failure to pay would leave the data mangled and likely beyond fix. He prevented more than 100,000 computers across the globe from being infected by registering a website domain name that unexpectedly stopped the spread of the ransomware, after he discovered that activating a specific web domain could disable the worm.

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Marcus - who goes by the online moniker MalwareTech - told MailOnline: "I'm not so anxious with emails, it's supposedly that this ransomware actually drops a back door and we don't know yet if our fix kills the backdoor as well".

Despite the damage it has caused, Marcus and his workmates claim the virus was "poorly designed", with an unsophisticated payment system.

Mr Hutchins himself is part of a global community that constantly watches for attacks and works to thwart them, often sharing information on Twitter.

It is not uncommon for members to use aliases, to protect from retaliatory attacks and ensure privacy.

Challenging Ministers to release their risk assessment to prove they had been taking it seriously, he said: "I would say to the government today, publish the Department of Health's risk register so we will know how seriously the government were taking a potential cyber attack".

Marcus thanked several individuals and organisations for their help, including the National Cyber Security Centre UK, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Microsoft. But he realises his newfound fame will mean an end to the anonymity.

Hutchins' mother Janet, a nurse, couldn't be prouder - and was happy to have the veil of anonymity lifted. Hutchins works out of his bedroom in the seaside resort town of Ilfracombe on a sophisticated computer setup with three large screens. The attackers would realise how we stopped it and they will change the code and start it again he said. The concept of celebrity was clearly foreign to him.

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