Finally allowed to access the Internet, indicted British cybersecurity expert Marcus Hutchins has thanked his supporters and community for supporting him in the past few eventful days.
Hutchins had earlier plead not guilty after being charged with creating and selling a banking trojan that allowed hackers to steal financial information.
Taking to Twitter for the first time since 2nd August, Hutchins said that while he is not allowed to talk about his ongoing trial, he has been allowed to access the Internet but is still under house arrest. He was previously granted bail on 5th August after furnishing a bail bond of $30,000 which was raised by his family and friends.
In a series of tweets, he thanks people for their ‘amazing support over the past 11 days’ and said that he has also been contacted by people who actually think that he sold malware. He added that he has no cash, no credit, no identity and does not know when he will be released.
Hutchins was arrested by the FBI at the Las Vegas airport on 3rd August while returning to the UK after attending the Black Hat and Def Con cyber-security conferences in the city. He was indicted on six counts by a grand jury in the Eastern District of Wisconsin for creating and selling Kronos, a banking trojan used by hackers to steal banking passwords and financial data.
The charges against Marcus Hutchins include conspiracy to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, selling and advertising wiretapping devices, and aiding and abetting a hacking attempt. The indictment also says that he and his accomplice charged between $2,000 (£1,523) and $3,000 (£2,284) for Kronos malware samples.
The FBI has also arrested another man who is believed to be Hutchins’ accomplice. He was caught selling Kronos samples on AlphaBay, a Dark Net marketplace which was recently busted and shut down following a months-long joint action between the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Dutch National Police.
AlphaBay also hosted many other cyber criminals looking to sell samples of powerful malware like Philadelphia Ransomware, CTBlocker, Stampado and Blackmail Bitcoin Ransomware.
Hutchins is being represented in a Wisconsin court by lawyers Marcia Hoffman and Brian Klein. WHile Klein is a partner at Los Angeles-based law firm Baker Marquart LLP, Hoffman is special counsel to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights defender and founder of Zeitgeist Law, a firm specialising in information security, open government, privacy and surveillance issues.
“Marcus Hutchins is a brilliant young man and a hero. He is going to vigorously defend himself against these charges and when the evidence comes to light we are confident that he will be fully vindicated,” said Hoffman to the press.
“He has tremendous support- local and abroad, and in the computer world, so many people are trying to put money together and raise his cash bond,” she said before he was granted bail.
Following his arrest, a number of cyber security experts have stated that his indictment is an ominous sign for ethical hackers who cooperate with the government and track down harmful malware on the Internet.
MalwareTech’s (Hutchins’) business and job is around finding, reversing and analysing malicious software (malware) and finding the techniques used. This includes monitoring “dark web” websites, where covert identities are used to gain access — as is common across the security industry,” wrote Kevin Beaumont, a cyber security researcher in the UK in a blog post.
“On a personal note, I am withdrawing from dealing with the NCSC and sharing all threat intelligence data and new techniques until this situation is resolved. This includes through Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership.
“Many of us in the cyber security community openly and privately share information about new methods of attacks to ensure the security for all, and I do not wish to place myself in danger,” he added.