back to article WannaCry-killer Marcus Hutchins denies Feds' malware claims

Marcus Hutchins, the WannaCry ransomware killer and now suspected malware developer, was told by a Las Vegas court on Friday he can be released on bail. He also denied any wrongdoing. The British citizen was sensationally arrested and taken into custody on Wednesday by the FBI. The agents swooped as he was about to board a …

Anonymous Coward

Hope he gets bail but not holding breath, didn't somebody at last years DEFCON do a talk on hacking GPS ankle bracelets?

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Hope he gets bail but not holding breath

He has got bail. Keep up! :)

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GPS ankle bracelets

As I already posted, I can fool my GPS watch just fine. I have the tools, unlike the Drooling Fool whose Uncool Tools also Drool...

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Anonymous Coward

Lol But still behind bars for the weekend and if the FEDS come up with a new charge in the meantime he will be re-arrested at the prison gate and lucky if he tastes fresh air on Monday.

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Re: GPS ankle bracelets

> As I already posted, I can fool my GPS watch just fine. I have the tools, unlike the Drooling Fool whose Uncool Tools also Drool...

It'd be spectacularly unwise to do so, unless combined with scarpering out of the country. Not only is it a breach of bail conditions (welcome back to prison), but they tend to use it as an excuse to charge you additional 'administrative fees'.

The US is, for all intents and purposes, a corrupt state. As someone else noted above, many of the court ordered 'privileges' such as bail bracelets are non-optional and charged to you at extortionate rates (have a google for the racket involving drink drivers and in-car breathalysers). Even posting bail incurs (high) non-refundable costs.

Most of it isn't so much justice as naked profiteering to the benefit of the Justice Dept's chosen suppliers. That's not justice, it's extortion with a judicial veneer. Of course, before you even reach that point you've got to contend with the cops taking what they please and calling it civil forfeiture.

America, the country where bankruptcy can come as a result of getting ill, or having to defend false and flimst allegations in criminal court.

There are things in the US I'd like to have seen, but they're very firmly on my Do Not Visit list, and it's hard to forsee a future where that might change.

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Anonymous Coward

If they got it on tape with him admitting it and now he's trying to plead not guilty then I imagine he's pretty much screwed.

I wonder if he will be stupid enough to try to get some sneaky internet access or tamper with his GPS tracker as well.

Hopefully they'll keep in either under surveillance or locked up long enough to track what happened to the bitcoins as well.

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"If they got it on tape with him admitting it and now he's trying to plead not guilty then I imagine he's pretty much screwed."

I suspect that part of the interview went something like them showing him a print out of the blog post mentioned in the article, which included the proof of concept code, and asking him to confirm it's what he wrote (and what it was), and then asking him to confirm or deny if any of that code ended up in Kronos.

These being true, he probably confirmed them - and that then got twisted into "he admitted to writing malware,"

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asking him to confirm or deny

The law in the U.S. allows you to refuse to incriminate yourself. It is the Fifth Amendment .

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Facepalm

Re: asking him to confirm or deny

Pointing out the Fifth Amendment isn't much help if he's already "admitted during interrogation, in which he did not have a lawyer, to writing malware," which is what the article states the prosecution are claiming.

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Re: The Elder Re: asking him....

"The law in the U.S. allows you to refuse to incriminate yourself. It is the Fifth Amendment." True, but most non-Americans have no clue as to US laws or the US Constituition, as demonstrated by many of the posters here on a regular basis. I suspect Hutchins would have no awareness of such a defence.

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Re: The Elder asking him....

He's from Devon. They have a limited right to refuse to incriminate yourself there too.

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Re: asking him to confirm or deny

"It is the Fifth Amendment ."

5th amendment doesn't apply as he's a foreign national and not a US citizen. He has about the same level of rights as a Guantanamo in-mate. ie, none.

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Re: The Elder asking him....

They have a limited right to refuse to incriminate yourself there too

No sir, I've never seen that sheep before :-)

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Stop

Re: Bernie Re: asking him to confirm or deny

"5th amendment doesn't apply as he's a foreign national and not a US citizen. He has about the same level of rights as a Guantanamo in-mate. ie, none." Actually, that is incorrect. Whilst he is on US soil and charged in public court he has exactly the same rights (rights to silence and not to incriminate himself, in this case) as an US citizen because the US Constitution mainly deals with setting limits to the power of the government rather than spelling out the rights of US citizens. The only rights Hutchins would not have that are granted by the Constitution are those which are specifically granted only to US citizens, such as the right to vote in elections (though Democrats don't seem to understand that one either). The difference with Gitmo is the detainees are not on US soil, therefore they are not covered by US law or the Constitution.

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Re: Bernie asking him to confirm or deny

"Actually, that is incorrect. Whilst he is on US soil and charged in public court he has exactly the same rights."

Wasn't there a recent change to US law that suspended constitutional rights within a specified range of the border? Such as at airports etc?

Update: Further research would indicate that its the fourth amendment rather than the fifth that is often ignored, so your point is indeed taken. A judicial note on the fifth amendment indicates that it applied "in any criminal prosecution."

https://www.aclu.org/other/constitution-100-mile-border-zone

https://law.stackexchange.com/questions/238/how-does-the-us-constitution-apply-to-aliens

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TRT
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Can't "use" the internet...

what, in any way, shape or form? So presumably the GPS tagging system uses some mechanism which does not involve IP packets at any stage... and no Netflix for you boy. No Skype calls back to family either.

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So where will DEF CON move to?

Which country will the next DEF CON be in, since it is no longer viable for them to hold it in the US?

Maybe Canada?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So where will DEF CON move to?

Upvoted because that would be great, but keep in mind that 90-95% of the population of Canada lives within 300 km of the American border and that means that many International flights use American airspace. So, if there was anyone that American policing wanted to nab they could order that flight to land.

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Happy

Re: So where will DEF CON move to?

I suggest Cuba - there's nothing quite like sticking it to the man.

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Re: So where will DEF CON move to?

Wrong. Most flights to Europe would follow great circles, taking them close to the North Pole, not over the US

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Black Helicopters

Re: So where will DEF CON move to?

Calgary is approximately 300KM away from the Montana border.

A safer bet would be Edmonton a further 290KM to the North, with 610KM to the same border & a very nice facility called the FantasyLand Hotel..

Accomodations look like this...... http://fantasylandhotel.com/accommodations/

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Re: So where will DEF CON move to?

They are apparently planning to hold one in Shanghai next year (as well as Vegas). Worrying that mainland China actually feels like a safer bet at the moment

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Oh dear... maybe

Crucially, prosecutors are also claiming that Hutchins admitted during interrogation, in which he did not have a lawyer, to writing malware, and allege the Brit hinted he also sold software nasties. That sounds bad, however bear in mind that Hutchins, who goes by MalwareTechBlog on Twitter, has written and shared malware code online for research purposes.

I am in no way defending the US policing or judicial systems but if the above is true then I would submit that Hutchins has been rather silly. He may well have "witten and shared malware code for research purposes" but it is perfectly fair to argue that he has to accept some responsibility if some of that code is subsequently used for malicious purposes.

As a defence it will sound every bit as hollow as the claim that "I was looking at child porn for research purposes", which has been tried in the UK - without success IIRC. "Sharing online" is not a good way of discriminating between those with good intent and those with malicious intent so he may well be on a loser with that part of any indictment.

I suppose he might be guilty of nothing more than naivety, but that might not be sufficient to keep him out of trouble.

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Re: Oh dear... maybe

He may well have "witten and shared malware code for research purposes" but it is perfectly fair to argue that he has to accept some responsibility if some of that code is subsequently used for malicious purposes.

Maybe someone with experience of lowish level Windows programming could comment on the possible alternative uses of the code in the blog linked in the article. However, my immediate thought is where does this stop? If a code fragment from some random Github repository gets used in malware is the author guilty of writing the malware?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh dear... maybe

Your comment is funny. I first noticed Hutchins in Twitter because I follow lot of security researchers work. And their work involves researching and finding security vulnerabilities in software. Once they find a security hole, they will notify the software vendor. But they will also share their finding publicly, sometimes before there is a patch from the vendor. And in any case before the whole world has patched their systems. They will also write "malware code" to prove their finding is valid. Reason for this is simple: all software has bugs. Bad guys are constantly finding bugs and using them for criminal purposes. Once there is knowledge that a certain software has a security problem, exploit code will be written almost instantly.

In short: sharing code that can also be used for criminal purposes is part of the process of making software more safe and protecting everyone of us. Please don't try to spin it to look like it is equal to stealing money from other people's bank accounts.

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Facepalm

Re: Oh dear... maybe

An AC wrote: In short: sharing code that can also be used for criminal purposes is part of the process of making software more safe and protecting everyone of us. Please don't try to spin it to look like it is equal to stealing money from other people's bank accounts.

Interesting logic there; it's OK to share code that can be used for criminal purposes because it can be used for legitimate purposes as well.

And you accuse me of spin...

No wonder you used an AC identity.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh dear... maybe

and the name on your pay cheques, driver license etc...is Commswonk?

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Re: Oh dear... maybe

@Commswonk

"He may well have "witten and shared malware code for research purposes" but it is perfectly fair to argue that he has to accept some responsibility if some of that code is subsequently used for malicious purposes."

OK - while I do not necessarily agree or disagree with your view, and of course fully support your right to hold it, let's run with that argument a little.

"Recently there have been a large number of road deaths associated with driving motor vehicles. While, of course, motor vehicle manufacturers do not intend for the vehicles they make and sell to be used to cause death, it is perfectly fair to argue that they have to accept some responsibility if some of those vehicles are subsequently used for malicious purposes."

Hmmm. OK (er, again (blush)). So you say the vehicle thing is a bit of a stretch? Well, let's try again. "Recently there have been a large number of road deaths associated with gun possession (legal and otherwise) in the US. While, of course, gun manufacturers and suppliers do not intend for the guns they make and sell to be used to cause death, it is perfectly fair to argue that they have to accept some responsibility if some of those guns are subsequently used for malicious purposes."

Would prefer a world where researchers do not research, and where research results are not shared because those results may be misused? Do you believe your world would be safer as a result of that lack of research, that lack of sharing, because people who could do the research don't, and even if they do then never tell anyone of their findings? I confess I do not - and wouldn't even try to think of the list of things we wouldn't have if researchers in many fields hadn't in fact researched and shared their findings. Of course - I'm an Idiot (blush).

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Re: " accept some responsibility"

By your reasoning Messrs Smith, Wesson, Colt Glock, Kalashnikov etc etc etc etc etc should be clogging up the American courts on multiply counts of homicide, shareholders in car companies should examine their consciences and pigs should fly.

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Re: Oh dear... maybe

"However, my immediate thought is where does this stop? If a code fragment from some random Github repository gets used in malware is the author guilty of writing the malware?"

If that's the case, Roland McGrath must be getting nervous by now...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh dear... maybe

>If a code fragment from some random Github repository gets used in malware is the author guilty of writing the malware?

...that depends on a random jury's ability to understand the code fragment and it's final context - good luck with that.

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Re: " accept some responsibility" (guns)

@uffish....

Actually... in the United States... there was a law specifically passed in 2005 to insure gun makers: Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA.

Lawmakers passed PLCAA in response to a spate of lawsuits that cities filed against the gun industry in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Those lawsuits often claimed gun-makers or sellers were engaging in "negligent marketing" or creating a "public nuisance."

In 2000, for example, New York City joined 30 counties and cities in suing gun manufacturers, saying manufacturers should have been making their products safer and also better tracking where their products were sold. Manufacturers, one argument at the time went, should stop supplying stores that sell a lot of guns that end up being used in crimes.

In response to these lawsuits, the NRA pushed for the law, which passed in 2005 with support from both Republicans and Democrats. Then-Sen. Clinton voted against it; her current Democratic opponent, Bernie Sanders, voted for it.

The law, however, allows for specific cases in which dealers and manufacturers can be held responsible.

Adam Winkler, professor of law at UCLA and author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, in an email to NPR. "The 2005 law does not prevent gun makers from being held liable for defects in their design. Like car makers, gun makers can be sued for selling a defective product. The problem is that gun violence victims often want to hold gun makers liable for the criminal misuse of a properly functioning product."

In other words: If you aim and fire a gun at an attacker, it's doing what it was intended to do. If it explodes while you shoot and hurts you, though, then you can sue the manufacturer. Likewise, if you had told the gun-store owner you planned to commit a crime with that gun, your victim could potentially sue.

At the time that the law passed, the NRA argued that the industry needed the protection, because — unlike carmakers, for example — it did not have the "deep pockets" necessary to fight a slew of lawsuits, as the New York Times reported.

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Re: " accept some responsibility" (guns)

It is hard to sue when you are dead.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh dear... maybe

It's not about some piece of code. One can opt to use pseudo-code or plain English sentences to explain one's findings. Online criminals share (and sell) information with each other. It's not possible to effectively fight them if everyone works in silos.

Also, I assure your "Commswonk" identity is just as anonymous to me as I am to you.

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Re: Oh dear... maybe

> It's not about some piece of code. One can opt to use pseudo-code or plain English sentences to explain one's findings.

When explaining how a bug can be triggered/exploited, psuedo code is precisely fuck all use. And english explanation may not be sufficient to repro the issue, and if it is then the 'bad guys' can use that to build their own weaponised exploits.

Your solution does nothing other than either prevent the sharing of information, or add a single step

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Re: Oh dear... maybe

'No wonder you used an AC identity.'

What, Commswonk is your real name?

That explains a lot.

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Coat

Re: Oh dear... maybe

"If a code fragment from some random Github repository gets used in malware is the author guilty of writing the malware?"

You mean like the authors of the MS implementation of SMBv1?

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Windows

Re: Oh dear... maybe

"Interesting logic there; it's OK to share code that can be used for criminal purposes because it can be used for legitimate purposes as well."

Ordinary people have to live with the fact there are plenty of everyday things can be used legitimately but are also fairly frequently used for criminal purposes. Here's a few examples to help illustrate that 'interesting logic' for you:

- knives, guns, explosives, cars, trucks, aeroplanes, diesel, battery acid, microbes etc...

Sharing code seems fairly tame compared to folks speeding through a school crossing - which seems to happen fairly regularly around the world.

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Re: " accept some responsibility" (guns)

That sounds like civil lawsuits not FBI stuff.

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Re: Oh dear... maybe

The prosecution would have to show he profited from the Kronos sales to prove their case. It is not illegal to write such code, nor is it illegal to share it for "research purposes", but it is a crime to incite others to use your code from criminal purposes, and a crime to sell your code if you have a reasonable expectation of realizing that the person you sold it to intended to use it for a crime. If the prosecution can link Hutchins to the seller of the Kronos kit then Hutchins is screwed - if not then he'll walk.

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Re: Oh dear... maybe

"I am in no way defending the US policing or judicial systems but if the above is true then I would submit that Hutchins has been rather silly."

You don't seem to know anything about the programming community? Let alone the more specialised branches, such as security.

Even I, not involved in security, actually read (I now realise) some of Hutchins' tutorial-oriented material in order to better understand some of the ways viruses can attack systems. These things aren't secrets -they are discussed openly, partly in order to encourage the OS vendors to improve their products (MS, looking at you there..)

FBI should go after MS instead for leaving vulnerabilities open.

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Re: Oh dear... maybe

So the man responsible for inventing the switch should be in prison for allowing terrorists to set bombs off. Plonker.

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Facepalm

Re: Oh dear... maybe

" it's OK to share code that can be used for criminal purposes because it can be used for legitimate purposes as well."

OMG! we'd best stop selling C# and C++ compilers immediately just in case they are used by evil people!

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Re: Oh dear... maybe

stop selling C# and C++ compilers immediately just in case they are used by evil people

Prosecution: Yer Honour, I wish to bring to the attention of the court that a lot of the Windows OS is written using C++ and C#.

The Court: Case proved! Send them daaaan.

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Re: " accept some responsibility"

"By your reasoning Messrs Smith, Wesson, Colt Glock, Kalashnikov etc etc etc etc etc should be clogging up the American courts on multiply counts of homicide, shareholders in car companies should examine their consciences"

Well, yes. Except for your aerobatic bacon, yes.

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hosting defcon in the US...

...seems a bit of an oversight by the organisers.

Better to host in a more neutral country in future, one that is not prone to this sort of thing.

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Re: hosting defcon in the US...

>...seems a bit of an oversight by the organisers.

So, DEFGONE next year, then?

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Holmes

I'll reserve judgement until more is revealed as to whether Inspector Lestrade and the flatfoots have made a mistake or Mr Hutchins has been a very naughty boy, in the meantime anything is just conjecture. If Mr Hutchins is innocent then I suggest he gets one of his relatives to 221 baker street and fast.

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It's not stopping the squealing from the anti-US left echo chamber here, is it?

'Reserve judgement' is all we can do without looking pretty stupid.

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221*b* Baker Street

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