ILFRACOMBE, England —Marcus Hutchins and other computer experts around the world worked throughout this past weekend fighting a vast “ransomware” attack paralyzing computers in at least 150 countries.
Before ‘WannaCry‘ struck, AP reports Hutchins was just another young man “doing his bit to stop botnets.” Hutchins, who lives with his parents, recently is shown amid newly released photos revealing a self-assembled IT hub in his small bedroom with computer servers, monitors, and video games. His other images reportedly show he is a self-taught coder who attends DEF CON in Las Vegas, a renowned annual conference established in 1993 for the hacking community.
British IT expert Marcus Hutchins who has been branded a hero for slowing down the WannaCry global cyber attack, sits in front of his workstation during an interview in Ilfracombe, England. Hutchins thwarted the virus that took computer files hostage around the world, including the British National Health computer network, telling The Associated Press he doesn’t consider himself a hero but fights malware because “it’s the right thing to do.’’
Photo: AP Photo by Frank Augstein
British IT Expert Discovers “Kill Switch“
AP reports during the first few hours after the new virus launched, Hutchins and other web surfing enthusiasts discovered a so-called “kill switch” which eventually was used to slow this unprecedented outbreak. Hutchins then spent the next several hours fighting the new worm that crippled Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), government agencies and banks across Europe, as well as other businesses around the world.
The ‘Secret Sauce‘
Hutchins discovered a solution when analyzing samples of the malicious code. He soon realized it was linked to an unregistered domain name. For a few pounds [dollars], he simply registered the newly discovered domain. As luck would have it, this tactic all but stopped the worm from spreading to other vulnerable enterprises, unpatched servers, and personal computers across the globe.
Hutchins works for U.S.-based Kryptos Logic. According to Kryptos Logic’s CEO, Salim Neino, Hutchins’ quick work slowed the ‘WannaCry‘ virus in European time, before it could fully affect the United States.
This latest cybersecurity episode is eerily similar to the Northeast U.S. blackout events of 2003, where a “software bug” set off several alarms resulting in a series of unintended consequential events. Unaffected areas in the Northeast and the remaining Mid-Atlantic states were protected by transmission circuit devices or disconnected thus preventing outages from rapidly cascading onto other electric grids across U.S. Mid Atlantic states and beyond.
—Sources: AP, BDPA-DC, CNBC.com