‘Accidental hero’ who stopped the WannaCry attack does AMA, talks privacy and fame
Dubbed a ‘hero’ after registering a domain and helping stop the WannaCry cyber attack, Marcus Hutchins faced unexpected media pressure. The 22-year-old, who is very active on Twitter, answered a series of questions in an ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) session on Reddit, and talked about privacy and fame.
Marcus Hutchin goes by the name MalwareTech on Twitter and Reddit and describes himself as a ‘malware researcher, programmer, and blogger.’ Because he discovered a ‘kill switch’ to stop the WannaCry ransomware attack, he is considered to be the ‘accidental hero’ who helped put an end to the cyber attack that infected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries and caused problems for Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), Spain’s Telefónica, FedEx and Deutsche Bahn, andl also other companies.
Essentially, he discovered an URL inside the cryptoworm, registered it and stopped the spread of the ransomware. Pretty soon his real identity was discovered and media outlets in the UK started to harass him, as he said. After answering questions for two of the biggest newspapers, the 22-year-old decided it was time to talk to his peers on the internet.
As such, he created an AMA session on Reddit and the questions started pouring.
Asked if any governments offered him jobs after his deed, Marcus replied saying that wasn’t the case, guessing it has to do it his social media account.
“They probably took one look at all the shitposting and memes in my twitter feed and were like ‘naaaah’,” he wrote.
The best thing that came out of this experience, Marcus said, is the fact that he’s now more confident to do something he always wanted.
“I’ve always wanted to do educational videos and possibly conference talks, but until I got dragged out into the spotlight I wasn’t confident enough to make the leap from being anonymous. Now that my identity has become public, I feel more confident to give it a go as it’s a much smaller jump to make,” the 22-year-old said.
Marcus told one Redditer he got into malware research ‘through programming and a fascination with how malware works.’
Also, the young man noted that he would register the domain again, even if it meant he’d have to go through the same hassle again.
“I think in hindsight knowing the damage caused by this malware would make me more likely to do it, even knowing the personal consequences. It’s pretty heartbreaking when all the emails in your inbox not from journalists are people pleading with you to find a way to recover the lost photos of their kids or dead relatives,” Marcus answered on Reddit.
He also tried to make sure people don’t think he was behind the WannaCry cyber attack:
“I’ve actually seen a lot of conspiracies. I do not want fame nor money, so I’m not sure why it’d be worth the risk of spending the rest of my life in jail to get 2 things I don’t want. Not to mention every intelligence agency in the world is looking at this right now, there’s no way they haven’t already investigated me to cover all their bases. Not to mention it took the media 3 days to find my real name and address, how long do you think it would take the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies to find me if I was the person responsible?”
Talking about the effects of the fame, Marcus answered a question on how his ‘hero’ status improved his sexual life.
“Has your new-found fame helped you get laid more?” one Reddit user asked.
“I literally didn’t leave the house the entire time I was famous,” Marcus replied.
Because he admitted he didn’t want people to find out who he was in real life, Marcus also answered a question on avoid being ‘doxxed’ – a technique of tracing someone or gather information about an individual using sources on the internet.
“If you want to be truly never found you can’t share any personal stuff about you online, you need total separation of your real life and online identity (including avoiding any use of your real name and address for online services, including billing). Honestly, it’s not fun and not worth it unless you’ve actually got something to hide. Initially, I lost out on many job offers because I wasn’t comfortable publicly linking my online identity to my real one,” the 22-year-old said.
Hutchins lives in North Devon, England, and works at the Los Angeles-based cybersecurity firm Kryptos Logic, according to a Wikipedia article. The 22-year-old runs a technology blog called MalwareTech. Hutchins is presently working with the UK government’s National Cyber Security Centre to ensure that other, more-powerful cyber-attacks by the same group behind the WannaCry ransome attack can be thwarted.