Update: MalwareTech has now been released on bail. His arraignment has been rescheduled for 10am on Monday, 14 August in Milwaukee.
MalwareTech, the cyber security researcher who halted the WannaCry ransomware virus earlier this year and was arrested in Las Vegas last week, will be released on bail today and will travel directly to Milwaukee for a court appearance tomorrow in the Eastern District of Wisconsin – After 24 hours of no information about his arrest, and a flurry of international news coverage, it was reported that MalwareTech, who lives in the UK and who was in the US for Defcon, was not a flight risk and will be allowed out on $30,000 bail.
The US Department of Justice released on indictment with six counts, accusing MalwareTech and an unidentified co-defendant of writing and selling the banking malware Kronos between 2014 and 2015.
A number of activists, lawyers and researchers working in this field have commented on the importance of MalwareTech’s work, some already questionable aspects of his charges, and the danger of having a UK suspect arrested and potentially tried in the United States. See here for brief background on MalwareTech and the immediate issues with his treatment.
Courage’s Naomi Colvin, who has provided written testimony in the extradition case of alleged UK hacker and fellow cyber security researcher Lauri Love, appeared on BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, stressing the value MalwareTech provided to US companies by halting WannaCry and the worrying disparity between how the US and UK treat hackers.
See Colvin’s appearance here, around the 01:10:00 mark: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08zqqxk/victoria-derbyshire-04082017
Orin Kerr’s legal analysis
Orin Kerr, a law professor and computer crime law expert, has published a detailed look at the charges, including the question of whether writing malware is actually a crime. Kerr writes, “Just based on a first look at the case, my sense is that the government’s theory of the case is fairly aggressive. It will lead to some significant legal challenges.
An apparent dealer of the Kronos banking malware – the password-pilfering software Marcus Hutchins, aka MalwareTech, is accused of creating – has told Forbes they weren’t even aware of his indictment, let alone anything to do with his involvement in the creation of the tool.
Tor Ekeland warns of decades in jail
A number of outlets featured US attorney and CFAA expert Tor Ekeland’s commentary on MalwareTech’s arrest. Ekeland says the charges could mean decades in prison if MalwareTech is convicted. See Ekeland’s comments in the BBC, Telegraph, The Hill and ABC News.
Computer crime analyst Marcy Wheeler looked at some of the noteworthy language in MalwareTech’s indictment and called attention to the venue of his court appearance. In a separate post, Wheeler shows “how remarkable” his arrest is, “out of all the illicit sales they might have chosen to prosecute in the month after taking the site down.”
Supporters Meeting Wednesday in London
On Wednesday 9 August, supporters of MalwareTech are meeting at Newspeak House in London, 6-8pm, to work together to assist him and uphold his rights.
Please direct press inquiries to Courage here.