The man who accidentally saved the NHS from its huge cyber attack has been revealed.
Marcus Hutchins is a self-taught computer genius who works in cyber security. The 22-year-old surfer lives with his parents and didn’t attend university.
He also managed to save the entire world from one of the most damaging cyber attacks in history. And mostly by accident.
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Mr Hutchins was praised over the weekend after it emerged that he had found a “kill switch” in the WannaCry malware that was spreading like wildfire across the internet.
He came across the vulnerability while attempting to understand the malware, which brought hospitals across England to a standstill. He found that it appeared to be referencing a URL at which there wasn’t a website – so he bought that URL as a way of checking how many times the ransomware had installed itself.
It was then that he realised that he could actually kill the ransomware, simply by using that URL.
In doing so, he helped put a stop to an attack that was by then sweeping across the world. It hit huge numbers of computers in almost every country across the world before Mr Hutchins stepped in.
Mr Hutchins work was part of his employment at a private cyber security firm, which he does from his own house.
Some had suggested that the young analyst was afraid that he would be hunted down by the people who he had foiled. But he said on Twitter that he didn’t fear for his safety, and was just annoyed that the extra attention was getting in the way of cleaning up the problems from Friday’s attack.
That had included providing information to the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, to help the Government fight against the effects of the attack. Mr Hutchins and other experts had worried that the virus could come back in a zombie form on Monday when people returned to work and started using their computer again – but that appears to have been prevented, with few reports of the attacks after the weekend.
Mr Hutchins mocked the extra attention he was receiving after his act of unintentional heroism. In particular, he pointed to the fact that a number of papers had written at length about his liking for pizza, demonstrated through posts on his Twitter account.
“Still so confused about the whole pizza thing,” he wrote on Twitter. “There’s an entire paragraph on an articles dedicated to the fact I like pizza.”
He then posted a poll, jokingly suggesting that maybe liking pizza wasn’t as normal as he’d realised. It received more than 4,000 votes, mostly from people who chose “Omg yes” rather than the alternative: “Yes”.