The British security researcher who stopped a global ransomware attack admitted to police that he wrote the code of a malware that targeted bank accounts, US prosecutors said during a hearing on Friday, but his attorneys said that he planned to plead not guilty.
Marcus Hutchins, the 23-year-old hailed as a hero for stopping the WannaCry ransomware attack, is accused of helping to create, spread and maintain the #banking trojan Kronos between 2014 and 2015 and is facing six counts of hacking-related charges from the US Department of Justice (DoJ), according to a recently unsealed indictment.
A judge ruled on Friday that Hutchins – who had been in Las Vegas for the annual Def Con hacking conference – could be released on $30,000 bail. The judge said the defendant was not a danger to the community nor a flight risk and ordered him to remain in the US with GPS monitoring.
Dan Cowhig, the prosecutor, argued in federal court that Hutchins should not be freed because he is a “danger to the public”, adding: “He admitted he was the author of the code of Kronos malware and indicated he sold it.”
As part of a sting operation, undercover officers had bought the code from Hutchins and his co-defendant, who is still at large, Cowhig said in court. The prosecutor said there is also evidence from chat logs between Hutchins and the co-defendant, revealing that Hutchins complained about the money he received for the sale.