Cyber expert who helped stop WannaCry sentenced to time served in malware case

Cyber expert who helped stop WannaCry sentenced to time served in malware case
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A British cybersecurity expert who helped stop the spread of the international WannaCry virus was sentenced Friday to time served by a U.S. district judge stemming from charges that he wrote other malware several years prior. 

According to The Associated Press, Marcus Hutchins was also sentenced to a year of supervised release by U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller. Hutchins pleaded guilty earlier this year to developing and conspiring to distribute a type of malware called Kronos between 2012 and 2015.

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While Hutchins was sentenced to time served, he could have faced up to 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. He served a few days in jail after being arrested in 2017, but was then freed on bail on the condition that he remain in the U.S. while his case was pending. 

Hutchins was arrested in connection to the malware charges months after he found what experts term as the “kill switch” for a debilitating international virus known as WannaCry. This was a ransomware virus that targeted computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system, and locked them down pending payments in the form of bitcoin. 

According to the AP, in sentencing Hutchins on Friday, Stadtmueller said the WannaCry virus Hutchins helped to stop was more damaging than the original malware he wrote. 

According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at the Department of Homeland Security, the Kronos malware Hutchins wrote was still active as of last month. 

CISA described Kronos as “a banking malware capable of intercepting web browsing data, injecting its own malicious code into webpages, and downloading additional payloads, while also employing a user-mode rootkit to hide its presence on an infected system.”