By Aaron Kesel
The hacker arrested for his alleged involvement in creating and selling a banking trojan who infamously stopped the WannaCry malware attack may have been falsely accused according to an associate. “Marcus Hutchins’ arrest may be a misunderstanding,” Ryan Kalember, the senior vice-president at the security firm Proofpoint told CBC.ca.
Hutchins is being accused by the FBI of creating and selling the Kronos banking trojan between 2014 and 2015.
He was arrested at the Las Vegas airport on Wednesday on his way home from the DEF Con annual hacking conference, Motherboard reported.
Tor Ekeland, a U.S. lawyer who deals with alleged cyber security criminals, stated that: “The maximum statutory sentence he could face is decades, roughly 40 years – Would he get that? I doubt it; it would be a bizarre outcome. Is it possible? It sure is.”
He has since been granted bail on $30,000 and is set to plead not guilty to the charges of creating, maintaining and selling the Kronos banking trojan when he’s set to appear in court on August 8th, according to his lawyer Adrian Lobo, Bleeping Computer reported.
MalwareTech is still in custody and is expected to be released after the weekend on Monday.
His discharge conditions are that he has to wear an ankle GPS bracelet and cannot access a computer or any electronic device connected to the Internet.
Kalember, who worked with Hutchins to bring down the WannaCry ransomware doesn’t believe he’s guilty and believes it’s a mix-up and that Hutchins was acting as a security researcher on a hacker forum to blend in with the cyber criminals.
“It is a lot like that. Malware researchers, in a lot of respects, are sort of like Donnie Brasco, except they don’t work for the FBI. Being on the forums is something that is a particularly normal thing for researchers to do. There’s nothing extraordinary about it and it does require blending in with cyber criminals in order to learn about their tools,” Kalember told the As It Happens radio broadcast show.
Kalember further added when asked if “there a possibility that there’s been a misunderstanding here?” that “we don’t have a lot of evidence” to determine whether or not he is innocent or guilty at this point in time, and before Hutchins is crucified for his potential involvement it does need to be said that the FBI has not released any evidence at this point in time.
“I would say there’s certainly a possibility. Obviously, we don’t have a lot of evidence to look at at this point in time.
But a lot of what a researcher does, especially on underground forums, for a law-enforcement agency would be really difficult to tell apart from legitimate criminal activity. You think of Donnie Brasco committing crimes in order to be trusted by the Mafia,” he added.
That’s exactly what it appears to be as researchers have pointed out on Twitter that Hutchins asked for a sample of the Kronos banking Trojan’s code.
— aHEMagain (@aHEM_again) August 5, 2017
Anyone got a kronos sample?
— MalwareTech (@MalwareTechBlog) July 13, 2014
However, news media are already starting to crucify Hutchins as being responsible with the BBC falsely reporting that U.S. prosecutors say Hutchins “admitted to creating Kronos malware that harvests bank details.”
A court hearing description was leaked to Activist Post:
I attended Marcus’s attainment in federal Court – and here is my report.
Court received supplemental memorandum. Prosecutor indicated they had all his chat logs which indicated he was selling the Kronos exploit from chats intercepted.
Us Atty, said he has no ties to Vegas but its indicated he has ties to Wisconsin. A hearing date of 8th August in Wisconsin was set.
Us Atty brought up the issue that Marcus had used a shooting range while in Vegas. And was concerned he was a danger to the public because he was a foreign national and discharged a firearm on US soil (bullshit), the lady judge said Bullshit and told the US Atty he was full of shit.
The us Atty said other defendants are at large. So more busts are possible.
Us Atty argued he was flight risk, and judge initially set a. $300,000 bail, or $30,000 bond.
Marcus’s Atty said recommending halfway house in Wisconsin until permanent residence can be setup.
The judge also questioned why it took the FBI two years to file the charges.
It was mentioned that Marcus has a huge support and many letters has been submitted to his Atty for support.
Marcus’s conditions for bail
* must pay pre-trial services their fee
* Maintain residence at halfway house
* Submit to GPS monitoring
* No computer, phone, or internet access
* Must relinquish his passport, id’s, and other identity papers.
Paying his Bail, I met Morgan Rockwell, CEO of Bitcoin Inc. He’s having a celebrity nerd moment. Will be collaborating with fund raising movement to insure bail is paid by this weekend.
The us marshals will put him on a flight on Monday to Wisconsin. Marcus said he wanted to drive to Wisconsin but it is unknown if us marshal would approve of it, assuming of course he makes bail.
Speaking to reporters outside the court, Lobo said MalwareTech was “completely shocked” when he first heard about the FBI’s charges that he had created and distributed malware used for breaking into banks.
Adrian also stated that prosecutors wanted the judge to deny bail to MalwareTech because he shot a gun without a license in a tourist gun range. The researcher’s attorney called the prosecution’s approach “garbage.”
“We intend to fight the case he has dedicated his life to researching malware, not to trying to harm people,” said Lobo.
Activist Post is in contact with Hutchins’ attorney Adrian Lobo and attorney Tor Ekeland both considered experts in this field of law and will update you when more information becomes available.
Image Credit: Pixabay