21:43 GMT +322 January 2020
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    Britain’s WannaCry ‘hero’ is fighting charges that could see him locked up for 40 years. Marcus Hutchins’ defense team released court documents claiming he was unfairly coerced into a confession when tired and intoxicated. Sputnik spoke to OTW (Occupy the Web), a US-based hacker, and to Adrian Winkles, cybersecurity expert, about the arrest

    Hutchins had been considered a worldwide hero when he found the kill switch that halted the WannaCry cyberattack, saving billions in collateral damage. But not long after, Hutchins- the accidental hero- was arrested, railed by the FBI for his involvement in a piece of malware named Kronos-which harvested bank details through a downloadable attachment.

    Sputnik: Who is Marcus Hutchins and what’s his reputation among the 'hacker community'?

    OTW (Occupy the Web): Hutchins is fairly new, he's appeared in DefCon a few times, but he doesn't have a reputation among the Black Hat community. He's a malware researcher, with no reputation as a Black Hat. That's why his arrest really caught so many people off guard, and is probably ill conceived. It's hard for many of us to believe that he's actually responsible for WannaCry or Kronos.

    Sputnik: It seems as though the government should be trying to get the hacker community on their side, as they could really benefit from their help in light of recent security flaws Spectre and Meltdown. Hutchins' arrest seems to be victimizing hackers- do you think it will have any backlash on the government?

    OTW (Occupy the Web): In the US every locality has its own prosecuter. Some of these prosecutors can be a little bit over enthusiastic. And they can spoil the whole pot for everybody. I think that's whats happening here. We have one prosecutor who is looking to make a name for themself, so they can run for office. Oftentimes they become governors and mayors and such. The way to do that, is to prosecute some high profile player, and that is what appears to be happening here. Yes. It could definitely damage the relationship between the hacking community and the government.

    Sputnik: Do you think Hutchins' trial is fair? Should he get immunity due to his hero status, and the so-called public service he performed by finding the WannaCry kill-switch?

    Adrian Winkles: As I understand it, charges could be a way of a plea bargain. Either trying to get somebody to admit to something else, or, to help with something else. Purely speculative, but there could be some other motive. Not like trumped up charges, or anything like that, but there could be something to do with a plea bargain, to help with other cases, or in exchange for information. The weak evidence suggests this.

    From what I've read, there's no evidence being produced yet. So at the moment, this chap (Hutchins), has only been accused and is unable to leave the space because he is under prosecution. But his legal team haven't yet had any evidence to show what he's exactly guilty of. I would have thought, certainly within the UK and Europe, there would be more active disclosure. If there were evidence against you, and you were being prosecuted, then you must be able to defend youself.

    That hasn't happened yet in Hutchins' case.

    The views expressed in this article by OTW and Adrian Winkles are solely those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    hacker attack, cybersecurity, WannaCry virus, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
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