Whiz kid who stopped the worldwide cyber attack

Whiz kid who stopped the worldwide cyber attack
15 May

The 22-year-old IT expert who beat the cyber attack that has wreaked havoc across the globe has revealed he is working with government spooks to thwart a second virus - while being inundated with job offers after his identity was revealed.

Marcus Hutchins, a keen surfer who lives in an English seaside town, prevented more than 100,000 computers across the globe from being infected by registering a website domain name that unexpectedly stopped the spread of the ransomware.

He is now working with the government's National Cyber Security Centre to prevent a new strain of the malicious software from emerging on Monday - but says he has no plans to leave his current job at US-based 'private intel threat firm' Kryptos Logic.

Although his bosses have rewarded him with an all-expenses paid trip to Los Angeles for his valiant efforts, Hutchins fears he could face future revenge from the hackers he has exposed after his name was posted on the internet.

The cyber expert, who lives at home in England with his parents and younger brother, told MailOnline: 'In future someone might want to retaliate - they could find my identity within seconds.

'If they know where I live, they could really do anything.

'A security blogger had people send heroin to his house and try to frame him after his identity was leaked and he even had death threats.

'I've seen posts about the terrible things people have done to him and for me in future it could be the same things.'

There are fears the next strike could be a 'zombie' attack, which sees malware that has infected a computer coming back to life in systems that have already been fixed.

An 'emergency stop' was found after Hutchins searched for a weakness in the hack software and found a reference to a website address that nobody owned.

He purchased it, knowing this was a regular way to track a computer infection, but had not expected it to actually halt the spread of the ransomware.

The whizz-kid - who goes by the name MalwareTech online - has now spent the last 72 hours battling the virus while watching his Twitter followers climb by 20,000 and thousands of emails landing in his inbox.

He reckons he has had just five hours of sleep during the past three days - and is preparing for another chaotic day on Monday over fears that hackers could launch a new technological assault.

Concerns have been raised that the beginning of the week could see a resurgence of the chaos which struck at the end of last week as office workers power up their machines.

The attack which began on Friday struck banks, hospitals and government agencies, exploiting known vulnerabilities in old Microsoft computer operating systems.

Now experts fear that an email containing the virus could be laying dormant in hundreds of thousands of inboxes across the globe.

Hutchins revealed exclusively to MailOnline that a new wave of chaos could begin across the globe, saying: 'I'm not so worried with emails, it's supposedly that this ransomware actually drops a back door and we don't know yet if our fix kills the backdoor as well.

'There is a possibility someone could just re-hack the systems.

'Assuming the backdoor wasn't killed, any computer that was infected previously would then be re-infectable.'

He continued: 'On Monday there is a good risk that there will be another attack so I'm going to try to keep everyone informed.

'We're probably not going to be able to stop it, so I'm just going to go on standby.'

But despite spending days saving the world from the ransomware virus, leaving his room just once for food, Hutchins said his parents are completely oblivious.

He revealed: 'I'm not really even sure they know yet - I haven't had time to speak to any of my family.

'I've been stuck at the computer working for the past three days trying to sort all this out .'

However Hutchins warned that a Chinese hacker appeared to be trying to buy the web address to thwart his efforts and they could upgrade the virus to remove the 'kill switch'.

Yesterday he also issued a stark warning that hackers could upgrade their software, known as WannaCrypt.

'Version 1 of WannaCrypt was stoppable but version 2.0 will likely remove the flaw.' he wrote on Twitter.

Hutchins frequently posts on social media about his love of surfing, pizzas and Pokemon. He shares photos from the 'malware lab' – a room full of computer screens and servers – he built in the home he shares with his parents.

He did not go to university because he was offered a job in computer security. He works for a based in Los Angeles, but still lives in England.

'They could essentially scan the internet for the backdoor and access it and drop the ransomware.

He continued: 'Users would have to power up their systems tomorrow, not connected to the internet and then check them for the backdoor before connecting to the internet.

'It would be pretty tricky, you would need custom tools to actually scan and remove the backdoor.'

Hutchins and a team of analysts are now attempting to track the hackers and investigating the possibility of a second wave of attacks.

But he warned last night: 'There is a good chance I might not be able to shut down the next one.'

He told the Mail yesterday that he got into computing at school, saying: 'When I was younger schools would have these parental controls which prevented you from browsing any non-educational sites.

IT lessons are boring and you want to go on games so we used to try to bypass those and that's what got me interested in security.

'My GCSEs were not great. I wasn't really a fan of school, I spent most of my time avoiding lessons and learning about computers instead. I didn't go to university because there was an error with my grades.

'I ended up taking a gap year because I had no choice because my grades hadn't arrived. In that year I started blogging and my blog caught the eye of the company I work for now, they just offered me a job and I never ended up going to university.'

He went on: 'Mostly what I do is tech but I also do surfing and a bit of travelling. I tend to go places for work and then I take a couple of days to go to the seaside.

'I work as much as I want to work, essentially. I'm only a fan of pizza because I can ring and it turns up, whereas if I cook something I have to spend 20 minutes cooking.'

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