Marcus Hutchins, the computer hacker who stopped the Wannacry Ransomware attack, has been spared a jail sentence in the United States over malicious hacking charges.
The 25-year-old British security researcher gained global prominence when he helped stop the 2017 WannaCry ransomware cyberattack, which targeted computers running Windows OS.
After infecting computers, the malware encrypted files on the hard drive preventing users from accessing them, and then demanded a ransom payment in bitcoin.
The attack resulted in billions of dollars in losses, but without the help Hutchins, experts believe the losses could have been worse.
2017 Arrest Over Upas Kit And Kronos Malware
Just a few months after being hailed the Wannacry Ransomware hero, however, Hutchins was arrested for his role in creating and selling UPAS Kit and Kronos malware used to steal banking passwords when he was a teenager.
Hutchins, also known as Malware Tech was arrested in August 2017 while boarding a flight back to the U.K. after attending the Def Con security conference. He was bailed on a $30,000 bond and has since been living in Los Angeles.
No Jail Time
Hutchins first denied creating Kronos but later pleaded guilty to two primary counts of creating and selling the malware. The other eight charges were dropped after the change in plea.
He faced up to 10 years in prison and a maximum $500,000 fine, but on Friday, Presiding Judge J. P. Stadtmueller of Milwaukee federal court said Hutchins will have no prison time and just one year of supervised release.
Hutchins took to Twitter to thank all those who supported him after the sentence was announced.
"Incredibly thankful for the understanding and leniency of the judge, the wonderful character letter you all sent, and everyone who helped me through the past two years, both financially and emotionally," Hutchins wrote.
The judge said that he considered Hutchins' age when he committed the offenses and gave him credit for" turning a corner" in his life before the charges were brought.
"It's going to take the people like [Hutchins] with your skills to come up with solutions because that's the only way we're going to eliminate this entire subject of the woefully inadequate security protocols," Stadmueller said.
Prosecutors have also acknowledged Hutchins' reformed character saying he has made a good decision to "turn his talents toward more positive ends."