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WannaCry hero malware trial postponed

The US court appearance of British WannaCry hero on charges of writing and distributing malware has been postponed

US authorities have postponed the court appearance of Briton Marcus Hutchins, who is under charges of helping to develop and maintain the password-stealing malware Kronos between July 2014 and July 2015.

The 23-year-old security researcher from Ilfracombe in Devon was expected to appear in court on 8 August 2017, but a new court date of 14 August 2017 has been set, reports Reuters.

Hutchins will have to wait another week for formal charges to be put to him and enter his plea in a court in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is not allowed to leave the US or access the internet and is under 24-hour GPS monitoring.

six-count indictment against Hutchins was filed on 12 July 2017, but made public only after his arrest, which comes after a two-year FBI investigation.

He was arrested at Las Vegas airport as he prepared to return to the UK after attending a series of security conferences, and was released on $30,000 bail after spending the weekend in detention.

He faces one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, three counts of distributing and advertising an electronic communication interception device, one count of endeavouring to intercept electronic communications, and one count of attempting to access a computer without authorisation.

The arrest came just weeks after Hutchins was hailed as a hero for discovering that WannaCry was connecting to an unregistered domain, which he then registered and took control of to stop the ransomware worm from spreading.

His lawyer Adrian Lobo said her client would plead not guilty to all charges, although prosecutors reportedly claimed he had admitted to writing the Kronos code.

Kronos was designed to steal online banking credential to enable those behind the malware to drain victims’ bank accounts.

Read more about WannaCry

  • The National Crime Agency believes the recent WannaCry attacks represent a “signal moment” in terms of awareness of cyber attacks and their real-world impact.
  • Computers running Windows 7 accounted for the biggest proportion of machines infected with the WannaCry ransomware, while NHS suppliers are blamed for hampering patching by NHS trusts.
  • Security advisers are urging organisations to patch their Windows systems to avert a possible second wave of an unprecedented, indiscriminate ransomware attack.
  • A failure by many organisations to take cyber security seriously has long been blamed on the lack of a single significant event to shake things up.

Since its creation, Kronos is thought to have stolen user credentials associated with banking systems in several countries, including the UK, Canada, Germany, Poland, France and India.

Prosector Dan Cowhig said Hutchins and an unnamed co-defendant were caught in a sting operation by undercover officers, according to the Telegraph. Cohig said other evidence includes chat logs between Hutchins and his co-defendant, who is reportedly still at large.

After his arrest, the cyber security research community rallied in support of Hutchins. His mother said his guilt was “highly unlikely” considering the “enormous amounts of time” he spent stopping cyber attacks.

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention