Marcus Hutchins, the researcher known for stopping WannaCry, avoids jail time over charges of creating and distributing Kronos malware.
Marcus Hutchins, a security researcher known for creating the “kill switch” that stopped the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack, has been sentenced to time served and a year of supervised release for charges of creating and distributing the Kronos banking malware.
Judge J.P. Stadtmueller, who presided over today’s hearing, said 25-year-old Hutchins had served his time and considered his age of the time of the offense, which occurred when he was a teenager. He credited the researcher for having made positive changes in his life prior to his arrest; over the years, Hutchins has developed a reputation as a top industry analyst.
“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,” said Stadtmueller at the hearing, as reported by TechCrunch.
The judge waived any fines. Hutchins, who had been in Los Angeles on bail, can return to his home in the United Kingdom. His criminal record will likely prevent him from re-entering the United States.
Months after WannaCry, Hutchins was arrested in the Las Vegas airport on his way home to the UK after the DEF CON security conference. He was charged with creating and distributing Kronos banking malware, conspiracy to commit computer fraud, illegally accessing computers, and advertising an illegal communication-interception device, among other things. Hutchins and a co-conspirator were also accused of creating and distributing Upas Kit malware.
Hutchins initially pleaded not guilty in August 2017 to charges of developing and distributing Kronos. Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to two counts of hacking for writing malware. “I regret these actions and accept full responsibility for my mistakes,” he wrote in a statement.
“Having grown up, I’ve since been using the same skills that I misused several years ago for constructive purposes,” Hutchins said. “I will continue to devote my time to keeping people safe from malware attacks.” He apologized again today to family, friends, and victims.