The Hero We Need

Free Software Principles

Article from Issue 204/2017
Author(s):

Malwaretech stood up for us. Now we should stand up for him.

The security researcher Marcus Hutchins, known professionally as malwaretech, has been arrested in the US, accused of creating the Kronos banking trojan and conspiring to sell it for $3,000 on the dark web.

This seems unlikely to me, given that he had previously turned down a $10,000 reward for his work on stopping WannaCry. Yes, that same WannaCry ransomware that threatened several organizations in Europe (and would have targeted the US if Hutchins hadn't got to it first).

Ten thousand dollars is more than $3,000, so the motives don't add up for me. Hutchins may or may not have written some code, and that code may or may not have been used to commit a crime. Tech-literate people, such as the readers of Linux Magazine, understand the difference between creating a work and using it to commit a crime, but most of the media coverage – in the UK, at least – has been desperate to follow the paradigm of building a man up only to gleefully knock him down. Even his achievement of stopping WannaCry is decried as "accidental," a word full of self-deprecating charm when used by Hutchins, but which simply sounds malicious in the hands of the Daily Mail and The Telegraph.

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