Cybersecurity campaigners to crowdfund legal fees for British ‘WannaCry’ hero detained in U.S.

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Cybersecurity campaigners have proposed a crowdfunding measure to help settle legal fees of a British hacker who was nabbed by the FBI on allegations of creating and distributing a malware that steals bank account details.

Marcus Hutchins, 23, of Devon, England, was arrested by the FBI after attending the Def Con hacking convention there. He was subsequently booked in jail and released days later on a $30,0000 bond.

His bail conditions prohibit him from accessing the Internet, which effectively means he cannot work.

His lawyer, Adrian Lobo, confirmed that he had been charged with six counts of creating and selling malware identified as ‘Kronos.’

But Mr. Lobo said his client will plead not guilty to all charges when he appeared at a court in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to answer the charges on August 14.

Mr. Hutchins was hailed for his uncommon heroism in stopping the wave of ‘WannaCry’ ransomware barely three months ago. His arrest was in connection to an offence not related to the ‘WannaCry’ attack.

The expert, who works for a California-based Internet security firm, Kryptos Logic, applied a ‘kill-switch’ after ‘WannaCry’ had infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries and halted activities at the United Kingdom National Health Scheme.

Other notable organisations affected by the virus as of May 12 included Telefonica in Spain and courier giant, FedEx.

The Nigerian government also issued an advisory about the effect of the virus when it began ravaging countries across the world.

On Wednesday, campaigners met in London to discuss how to crowdfund for his living costs and legal fees, according to Naomi Colvin of civil rights organisation, Courage Foundation.

American authorities have not made details of Mr. Hutchins’ arrest public, except disclosing that it was connected to selling of ‘Kronos’ around 2015.

Some cybersecurity researchers have expressed worry about the development, with some vowing to stop cooperating with authorities to fight hacking criminals online.

Another researcher warned that the FBI might have mistaken Mr. Hutchins’ clean intentions for criminal activities.

“This could very easily be the FBI mistaking legitimate research activity with being in control of Kronos infrastructure. Lots of researchers like to log in to crimeware tools and interfaces and play around,” said Ryan Kalember, a senior researcher at Proofpoint, a California-based cybersecurity firm.


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