Name: Marcus Hutchins
Born: Ascot, England
Lives: Los Angeles, California
Marcus Hutchins is best known for stopping one of the largest cyberattacks in history, the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack.
At the age of 13, Marcus was given his first computer, enabling him to begin teaching himself programming. Throughout his teen years he alternated between different programming languages, learning VB, PHP, C, C++, and Assembly. Due to almost exclusively hanging around hacking communities, he eventually found himself making money writing and selling illegal hacking tools.
In 2013 Marcus started MalwareTech, an anonymous blog focused on detailing the deep and technical inner workings of malware. The blog became popular among both security professionals and criminal hackers alike. As time went on, he became increasingly uncomfortable with working for cybercriminals and focused on leaving that life behind. Through his blog, Marcus had received several high paying job offers from international security companies, and gained some understanding of the cybersecurity industry. In 2016, he made the decision to transition into cybersecurity, taking a job as a research and development lead at a Los Angeles based firm.
Having previously never left the UK, Marcus used the income from his new job to travel. Despite attending security conferences all around the globe, he continued to only publish research anonymously under the name MalwareTech.
On May 2017, Marcus gained worldwide media attention after being outed as the person who stopped WannaCry, an extremely destructive ransomware virus. Reporters were able to track his MalwareTech alias back to his real identity, thrusting him into the spotlight. Three months later, he was arrested by the FBI while attending DEF CON, the world’s largest hacking convention. Unbeknownst to him, the FBI were aware of his past and had secretly indicted him on 6 felony charges prior to his entering the US. He was held in the Nevada Southern Detention Center pending trial.
After a week in prison, Marcus was granted temporary release on the condition that he posted $30,000 in cash for bail. His bail was paid for by Tarah Wheeler, a fellow cybersecurity professional, whom he had not previously met. Follow his release, Marcus was not allowed to return to the UK and his passport was seized. Having never lived in the United States before, he signed a lease on an apartment in Los Angeles, where he began a new life.
The legal case would drag on for 2 years, ending in Marcus pleading guilty to computer hacking and advertising of a wiretapping device. Fortunately, the judge weighed heavily the fact that Marcus had already rehabilitated himself, as well as his contributions to cybersecurity, sentencing him to 1 year of probation. Having already spent 2 years in the US, followed by another year of probation, Marcus made the decision to permanently relocate to Los Angeles. He resumed employment at the same LA based cybersecurity company where he had worked during WannaCry.
Marcus and his story were featured on the cover of Wired Magazine’s June 2020 issue, titled “The Confessions of Marcus Hutchins, the Hacker Who Saved the Internet.”