Man who stopped worldwide cyber-attack arrested in US

Marcus Hutchins was praised in May for halting a worldwide cyber attack that affected NHS computers. Credit: ITV News

A computer expert from Ilfracombe, who helped shut down a world-wide cyber attack that crippled the NHS, is due in a US court on Friday charged with creating software that steals bank details.

Marcus Hutchins, 23, has been charged with six counts of creating and distributing the malware known as Kronos. He was arrested by the FBI on Wednesday while returning from a hacking conference in Las Vegas.

Mr Hutchins was hailed a hero in May when he helped stop a ransomware virus which affected 300,000 computers worldwide, including the NHS.

Speaking three months ago, Hutchins said he had received many messages of gratitude after stalling the worldwide virus.

This new investigation predates the NHS cyber-attack, and focuses on Marcus Hutchins' activity in 2015. Officials say the two incidents are completely unrelated.

The US Department of Justice said Mr Hutchins has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, three counts of distributing and advertising an electronic communication interception device, one count of endeavouring to intercept electronic communications, and one count of attempting to access a computer without authorisation.

The six charges relate to the creation and distribution of software that harvested banking details known as Kronos banking Trojan, and are alleged to have taken place between July 2014 and July 2015.

  • What is Kronos?

The malicious software can harvest usernames and passwords as they are entered on banking websites on infected computers.

It acts as a Trojan, meaning it presents itself as legitimate software to gain access to machines.

The charges brought against Mr Hutchins span between July 2014 and July 2015, and accuse him of creating and distributing the malware.