Surfer worked from bedroom to beat cyberattack

Isaac Cain
May 19, 2017

"As the hero who stopped the ransomware virus, known as WannaCry, we thought it was only right to spread some cheesy love of our own and provide Marcus with his very own supply of piping-hot pizza, free for a whole year from any Just Eat restaurant", said a statement on the website.

Marcus, who works for Los Angeles-based Kryptos Logic but is from Ilfracombe, spent the weekend fighting against the virus that meant computer systems were able to return to relative normality.

WannaCry proved to be a new type of cyber threat in that it not only compromised users' computer files but held them for ransom - up to as much as $600 - or the files would be irreparably damaged.

He located a reference to a web address in the attack's software and purchased the site, thinking he could track the spread of the ransomware - but found he could actually halt its spread.

As a cyber sleuth, Hutchins tweets under the handle MalwareTech, which features a profile photo of a pouty-faced cat wearing enormous sunglasses.

Speaking to the Associated Press, he said: "I've had people, sort of inundating me with messages thanking me, saying that I'm a hero".

Hutchins stopped the virus in just a few hours, supposedly from a small bedroom at his parents' home, packed with video games and takeaway pizza boxes.

Hutchins' has regularly referred to his newfound fame on his twitter page, where he has also regularly updated followers with the progress of the cyber attack.

After all, now he is a computer celebrity.

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"I don't think I'm ever going back to the @MalwareTechBlog that everyone knew", he said.

His mother Janet, a nurse, couldn't be prouder - and was happy to have the veil of anonymity lifted.

"GPs, of course, can still diagnose and treat patients without using computers but we ask our patients to bear with us if routine services such as repeat prescriptions and appointment booking services are slightly disrupted this week", she said. He is now working with GCHQ's National Cyber Security Centre to head off another attack, according to The Telegraph.

"On Monday morning at the start of the new working week it's likely that successful attacks from Friday that haven't yet become apparent will become apparent", he said. As he did a sound-check for the camera, he was so anxious he misspelled his last name, giving it as "H-U-T-C-H-I-S", without the "n".

"'If they know where I live, they could really do anything", he said.

Many will be following his next moves. CyberSecurity Ventures, which tracks the industry, estimates global spending on cybersecurity will jump to $US120 billion this year from just $US3.5 billion in 2004. It forecasts expenditures will grow between 12 per cent and 15 per cent annually for the next five years.

"The unprecedented cybercriminal activity we are witnessing is generating so much cyber spending, it's become almost impossible for analysts to keep track".

Other snaps depict Hutchins - who did not attend university - in Las Vegas for DEFCON, the world's largest annual convention for internet hackers.

Yes, surfing. On waves this time.

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