Marcus Hutchins, the researcher hailed for squashing the WannaCry ransomware outbreak in May 2017, has been spared jail time over the creation of the infamous Kronos banking malware.
The 25-year-old British researcher was sentenced on Friday to time served and one year of supervised release over charges relating to the creation of the Kronos malware, according to reports.
The sentencing of Hutchins, known for his online Twitter name and blog ‘MalwareTech,’ has drawn international interest as the researcher has been hailed as a hero for his part in stopping the global WannaCry outbreak in 2017. He was detained not long after in August 2017.
“Sentenced to time served! Incredibly thankful for the understanding and leniency of the judge, the wonderful character letter you all sent, and everyone who helped me through the past two years, both financially and emotionally,” the researcher said on his Twitter account after the sentencing.
Sentenced to time served! Incredibly thankful for the understanding and leniency of the judge, the wonderful character letter you all sent, and everyone who helped me through the past two years, both financially and emotionally.
— MalwareTech (@MalwareTechBlog) July 26, 2019
Hutchins was indicted in 2017 and charged with writing the Kronos malware, a banking trojan first discovered in 2014 that is capable of stealing credentials and using web injects for banking websites. Hutchins and another individual whose name was redacted from the original indictment, allegedly advertised the malware for sale on a number of internet forums, including the dismantled AlphaBay market.
Hutchins filed a plea agreement in April pleading guilty to charges relating to the creation of the Kronos malware. The plea agreement admitted guilt to two of 10 counts in the Eastern District of Wisconsin on Friday – one charge for distributing Kronos and the other charge for conspiracy.
On the heels of his plea agreement, Hutchins faced up to 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines, according to court documents.
After Hutchins was first detained August 2017 in Nevada – a week after attending Black Hat and DEF CON – reaction to his arrest was mixed. The U.K. malware researcher has been hailed by many as the so-called “WannaCry Hero” because he discovered a way to knock down the WannaCry ransomware just as it had started to rapidly spread, infecting at least 200,000 systems and bringing global businesses to a halt.
Hutchins was hailed as a hero during the global WannaCry outbreak in 2017. His analysis of the ransomware uncovered a hardcoded killswitch domain that the malware beaconed out to. Hutchins’ purchased the domain for around $10 and by doing so likely spared the U.S. from suffering significant impact at the hands of WannaCry.
WannaCry is blamed for infecting more than 200,000 endpoints in 150 countries, causing billions of dollars in damages and grinding global business to a halt.