The 22-year-old who slowed down the spread from a malware virus has been named as Marcus Hutchins.
Hutchins, a British cybersecurity researcher, has been credited with stopping the WannaCry ransomware attack‘s spread from a small bedroom in his parent’s house. The Telegraph reports that he lives in a seaside resort on the north Devon coast.
Photos emerged on Sunday night of Hutchins’s self-assembled IT hub, which consists of computer servers, at least three monitors, and video games. Other images reportedly show the self-taught coder at DefCon in Las Vegas, which is a renowned conference for the hacking community.
The researcher — who is known as MalwareTech on Twitter and has been described as an “accidental hero” — registered a garbled domain name hidden in the malware to track the virus, unintentionally halting it in the process.
Andrew Mabbitt, the cofounder of Fidus, said on Twitter that Hutchins is “one of the most intelligent and talented people I know”.
“He gets paid to do his hobby which is most people’s dream in life,” he added.
The cyber attack plunged NHS England into disarray on Friday, and affected organisations around the world including French car manufacturers, Russian banks, and a Spanish telecoms operator, according to reports over the weekend.
The attack took the form of ransomware that is nicknamed “WannaCry”. Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts data on your computer, then asks for payment in return for decryption. In this case, messages seen by affected NHS staff showed that the attackers were asking for $US300 (£232) in Bitcoin in exchange for decryption.
A BBC analysis found people paid the hackers £22,080 in Bitcoin so far.
Europol’s executive director Robert Wainwright told ITV that there were at least 200,000 victims, including the NHS, across 150 countries so far, and that number will go up on Monday morning when people go back to work.
And things could be about to get worse. Hutchins told the BBC there was “another one coming … quite likely on Monday.” He is currently working with GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre to head off another attack, according to The Telegraph.
Additional reporting by Shona Ghosh.