Home Security Researchers dismiss bid to cast aspersions on Marcus Hutchins

Researchers dismiss bid to cast aspersions on Marcus Hutchins

Well-known British information security researcher Kevin Beaumont has dismissed an article by reporter Brian Krebs about Marcus Hutchins, the Briton who is awaiting trial in the US on charges of writing and distributing the Kronos banking malware, by pointing out that it has nothing to do with the case.

In a tweet, Beaumont said, "Re the MalwareTech Krebs article – nothing was news to me and it has nothing to do with case (which is purely, per FBI, about Kronos)."

He added, "Also, the UK intelligence services vetted him – a year ago? I can't remember. Gosh, imagine if they knew he used online forums."

Krebs wrote a long article about Hutchins, concluding: "The clues suggest that Hutchins began developing and selling malware in his mid-teens — only to later develop a change of heart and earnestly endeavour to leave that part of his life squarely in the rearview mirror."

In what was obviously a sarcastic reference to Krebs' claims that Hutchins had many accounts on underground forums, Beaumont added: "I hear @briankrebs has lots of accounts on underground forums."

Another security researcher, who uses the pseudonym x0rz, said in a tweet: "He (Hutchins) did have fun trying to learn when he was young, maybe he did resell malware – yet it has nothing to do with Kronos."

A third researcher, Robin Jackson, had this to say: "I respect @briankrebs but his exercise in "doxing" Marcus did nothing to show validity of the charges (by his own admission)...NOTHING."

And yet another well-known infosec figure, Rob Graham, issued a long thread of tweets, starting out with this: "1/ That @MalwareTechBlog is the 'wrong guy' was never the narrative. The narrative is that we stand behind members of our community."

He followed up with this: "2/ People are innocent until proven guilty. We should not expel him as a pariah until he's been proven guilty."

Hutchins, who gained the attention of the world when he stopped the spread of the WannaCry ransomware by accident in May, was arrested by the FBI in Las Vegas on 2 August after he had boarded a plane to leave the US.

He had gone to the US to attend the annual DEFCON security conference.

The chargesheet against him said he had written and helped distribute Kronos along with an unnamed co-conspirator.

Hutchins was granted bail on 14 August after a court appearance during which he pleaded not guilty to all six charges levelled against him. He is set to face court again in Milwaukee in October.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.