LAS VEGAS – A Las Vegas federal judge has set bail of $30,000 for a celebrated young British cybersecurity researcher accused by U.S. prosecutors of creating and distributing malicious software designed to steal banking passwords.
Marcus Hutchins’ attorney said the 22-year-old hacker will contest the charges.
Hutchins gained overnight fame with quick thinking in May when he helped curb the spread of the WannaCry ransomware attack that had crippled thousands of computers worldwide.
Many in the cybersecurity community have rallied around Hutchins, calling him a principled, ethical hacker. The conditions of his release came as a relief for his supporters.
“This is excellent news,” said Nicholas Weaver, a computer scientist at the University of California at Berkeley. “The indictment is remarkably shallow even by indictment standards, which is disappointing because it adds considerable uncertainty and fosters distrust with the general security community.”
Weaver said federal prosecutors and the FBI were making a mistake by not providing more details about the crimes it alleges Hutchins committed. “Having more information would act to reassure the larger security community that is so critical for fighting online crime,” he said.
Magistrate Judge Nancy Koppe said Hutchins is not a danger to the community and has sufficient community support to not be a flight risk.
She ordered him to surrender his passport and said he could fly to Wisconsin, where he was indicted last month, without identification. A court hearing is set there for next Tuesday.
Hutchins did not enter a plea at Friday’s hearing. Las Vegas-based attorney Adrian Lobo said she was working to secure bond.
Hutchins was arrested Wednesday while preparing to return home from the Def Con convention for computer security professionals. A grand jury indictment charged Hutchins him with creating and distributing malware known as the Kronos banking Trojan.
REGINA GARCIA CANO