Lawyer: British hacking suspect will be vindicated

August 14, 2017
Marcus Hutchins (R), the British cyber security expert accused of creating and selling malware that steals banking passwords, appeared at a court hearing Monday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his lawyers Marcia Homann and Brian Klein

A lawyer for a 23-year-old British computer security researcher accused of creating malware to attack the banking system on Monday called him a "hero" and predicted he would be "fully vindicated."

The lawyer's remarks came after Marcus Hutchins—who three months ago found a "kill switch" to stem the spread of the devastating WannaCry ransomware outbreak—pleaded not guilty to US charges of creating and distributing malicious software.

Hutchins was arrested earlier this month in Las Vegas after attending the Def Con gathering of computer hackers.

The case stunned the computer security community and drew fire from critics who argued that researchers often work with computer code which can be deployed for malicious purposes.

"Marcus Hutchins is a brilliant young man and a hero," said Marcia Hofmann, an attorney affiliated with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, who represented Hutchins at the hearing.

"He is going to vigorously defend himself against these charges. And when the evidence comes to light, we are confident he will be fully vindicated."

Hours after the hearing, Hutchins resumed activity on Twitter.

"I'm still on trial, still not allowed to go home, still on house arrest; but now i am allowed online," he wrote.

He also joked about the experience with a sarcastic "to do" list from his US visit: "Things to do during defcon: Attend parties. Visit red rock canyon. Go shooting. Be indicted by the FBI. Rent supercars."

A federal indictment accuses Hutchins and another individual of making and distributing the Kronos "banking Trojan," a reference to malicious software designed to steal user names and passwords used at online banking sites.

The indictment set the time of the activity by Hutchins as being from July 2014 to July 2015.

A trial date was set for the case for October 23, according to participants at the hearing, who added that a federal magistrate agreed to allow Hutchins to reside in California while the case is pending.

Hutchins, who lives in Britain and remains free on $30,000 bail, works for a California-based computer security firm. A court official said his bail terms were modified allowing Hutchins to travel within the United States and to access the internet.

"We are very pleased that the court modified the terms (of bail) allowing him to return to his important work," said Brian Klein, the second attorney for Hutchins.

His arrest has sparked criticism from some researchers who argue that the case could dissuade "white hat hackers" —those who find security flaws to help fix them—from cooperating with authorities.

Hutchins, known by the alias "Malwaretech," was charged in an indictment that was dated July 12 and unsealed in early August by federal authorities in Wisconsin.

According to the indictment, Hutchins was part of a conspiracy to distribute the hacking tool on so-called dark markets.

Explore further: British cybersecurity expert pleads not guilty to US charges

Related Stories

British cybersecurity expert pleads not guilty to US charges

August 14, 2017

A British cybersecurity researcher credited with helping curb a recent worldwide ransomware attack pleaded not guilty Monday to federal charges accusing him of creating malicious software to steal banking information three ...

UK cyber-researcher still held in Las Vegas in malware case

August 7, 2017

An official says a British cybersecurity researcher remains jailed in Nevada, a day before he's due to face charges in federal court in Milwaukee that he created and distributed malicious software designed to steal banking ...

Judge sets $30K bail for UK researcher in malware case

August 5, 2017

A Las Vegas federal judge set bail of $30,000 on Friday for a celebrated young British cybersecurity researcher accused by U.S. prosecutors of creating and distributing malicious software designed to steal banking passwords.

Recommended for you

Security gaps identified in internet protocol IPsec

August 15, 2018

In collaboration with colleagues from Opole University in Poland, researchers at Horst Görtz Institute for IT Security (HGI) at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) have demonstrated that the internet protocol IPsec is vulnerable ...

Researchers find flaw in WhatsApp

August 8, 2018

Researchers at Israeli cybersecurity firm said Wednesday they had found a flaw in WhatsApp that could allow hackers to modify and send fake messages in the popular social messaging app.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.