Marcus Hutchins, aged 23, was arrested in Las Vegas and charged with six counts in relation to creating and distributing software that harvested banking details known as Kronos banking Trojan, the US Department of Justice said on Thursday.
According to an indictment released by the US Department of Justice, Hutchins has been accused of having helped to create, spread and maintain Kronos trojan. A friend of Hutchins told the publication that he was moved to another unknown location sometime on August 3.
The malware ended up affecting more than 200,000 computers, but without Hutchins' intervention, experts estimate that it could have infected more than 14 million. In July 2014, Kronos was available for sale on a major Russian underground forum for a price tag of $7,000. The British National Cyber Security Center also confirmed they were aware of the arrest but refused to provide further comment.
"My colleague in Las Vegas says this was an Federal Bureau of Investigation arrest". According to Reuters, the defendant "showed no emotion" while Koppe presented the charges against him. Hutchins was in Vegas for Def Con, a massive conference for hackers, security experts and researchers gather to share information during the four days.
"He was escorted out of the airport and never made his flight". He never left Nevada.
Hutchins is best known for his role in combatting the WannaCry ransomware, which caused significant damage to the UK's National Health Service and shut down almost 75,000 computers worldwide.
News of Hutchins' arrest followed reports on Wednesday that someone had withdrawn about $140,000 from the Bitcoin wallets that were used to collect payments from victims of the May WannaCry attack. The indictment as publicly posted has redacted the names of Hutchins' co-conspirators. The indictment accuses another unnamed defendant in the case of advertising and selling the malware on the now-defunct dark web marketplace AlphaBay. Hutchins registered that domain.
"I've written code that other people have injected malware into", said Graham.