The 22 year old who saved the world from a malware virus has been named

The 22-year-old who slowed down the spread of a malware virus has been named as Marcus Hutchins.

Hutchins, a British cybersecurity researcher, has been credited with stopping the WannaCry ransomware attack's spread from a small bedroom in his parents' house. The Telegraph reports that he lives in a seaside resort on the north Devon coast.


Photo: Marcus Hutchins

Photos emerged Sunday night of Hutchins' self-assembled IT hub, which consists of computer servers, at least three monitors, and video games. Other images reportedly show the self-taught coder at Defcon in Las Vegas, a renowned conference for the hacking community.

The researcher — who is known as MalwareTech on Twitter and has been described as an "accidental hero" — registered a garbled domain name hidden in the malware to track the virus, unintentionally halting it. Hutchins described his efforts in a detailed blog post titled "How to Accidentally Stop a Global Cyber Attacks" on Saturday.

"I was quickly able to get a sample of the malware with the help of Kafeine, a good friend and fellow researcher," Hutchins wrote. "Upon running the sample in my analysis environment I instantly noticed it queried an unregistered domain, which i promptly registered.

"We prevented the spread of the ransomware and prevented it ransoming any new computer since the registration of the domain (I initially kept quiet about this while i reverse engineered the code myself to triple check this was the case, but by now Darien's tweet had gotten a lot of traction)."

RELATED: Protect yourself with these cybersecurity tips:

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Cybersecurity tips

KEEP YOUR PASSWORDS STRONG AND VARIED

If your password is easy for you to remember, then it'll be easy for hackers, too. Try using symbols, numbers and capital letters throughout your passcode. Also, experts suggest you use different passwords for different accounts. 

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EMPLOY TWO-STEP AUTHENTICATION

Add another layer of security by having another code sent to your phone number before you can sign in.

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BEWARE OF PUBLIC WIFI

If you're traveling, verify with the coffee shop or hotel that the wi-fi name is valid -- many cybercriminals set up networks with similar names to popular spots. You can also set up a private VPN that encrypts all of your data that passes through the network.

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COVER YOUR TRACKS

Wipe your hard drive clean before giving away, recycling or throwing out your old laptop or computer.

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DON'T LEAVE YOUR DEVICES UNATTENDED

That's just asking for trouble!

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BEWARE OF MYSTERIOUS URLS IN EMAILS

Don't ever click on URL from an unidentified or sketchy looking email. 

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COVER YOUR WEBCAM 

FBI director James Comey suggests placing a piece of tape over your webcam when you're not using it. If that doesn't convince you, note that Mark Zuckerberg is known to do the same.

KEEP YOUR SOFTWARE UP TO DATE

Hackers target vulnerabilities in software, which are often resolved in software updates, so stop hitting the "ignore" or "remind me later" button!

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Andrew Mabbitt, a cofounder of Fidus, said on Twitter that Hutchins was "one of the most intelligent and talented people I know."

"He gets paid to do his hobby which is most people's dream in life," he added.

The cyberattack plunged England's National Health Service into disarray on Friday and affected organisations around the world including French car manufacturers, Russian banks, and a Spanish telecoms operator, according to reports over the weekend.

The attack took the form of ransomware that is nicknamed "WannaCry". Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts data on a victim's computer and then asks for payment in return for decryption. In this case, messages seen by affected NHS staff members showed that the attackers were asking for $300 (£232) in Bitcoin in exchange for decryption.

A BBC analysis found people had paid the hackers £22,080 in bitcoin so far.

Europol's executive director, Robert Wainwright, told ITV that there were at least 200,000 victims, including the NHS, across 150 countries and that the number would most likely increase Monday morning when people return to work.

And things could be about to get worse. Hutchins told the BBC there was "another one coming ... quite likely on Monday." He is working with GCHQ's National Cyber Security Centre to head off another attack, according to The Telegraph.

Additional reporting by Shona Ghosh.

Learn more about online security:

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You Thought You Were Safe? The Myths and Realities of Your Online Security
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You Thought You Were Safe? The Myths and Realities of Your Online Security
For years, security professionals have emphasized the importance of shredding your personal documents before you throw them out. But Holland notes that shredding isn't as much of a priority as it used to be. "There aren't nearly as many documents with personal information out there as there were even just two years ago," he explains. "These days, it's much easier to get your information off your computer."

Passwords are your first line of defense against intruders. But, as Holland points out, even the most careful people sometimes have password breaches. "I've helped chief privacy officers from health care and security firms," he notes. "If they're getting hit, then anyone is vulnerable." While Holland notes the importance of having a good password, he emphasizes that the most important thing is paying attention to password breach notifications. If you hear that one of your passwords may have been breached, he counsels, change it immediately. And, because many of your accounts may be linked, he notes, it's not a bad idea to change the rest of your passwords as well.

One piece of advice that you don't often hear is to keep on top of software updates. But, Holland argues, updating your operating system, your software, and your security programs is one of the easiest and most important ways to ensure your security. Software companies spend a lot of time and money trying to stay ahead of online intruders -- it only makes sense to take advantage of their work.
Even if you are convinced that your security is state-of-the-art and your password is unbreakable, it never hurts to double-check your most sensitive accounts. Holland suggests regularly checking your bank and credit card statements to ensure that there aren't any inappropriate charges on your accounts. As a side benefit, this is also a great way to catch any unexpected fees that your bank may try to spring on you.
When a breach happens, a fast response can mean the difference between a minor annoyance and a major pain in the neck. With that in mind, Holland suggests talking to your bank about having transaction alerts placed on your account. Every time your account is credited with a transaction over a particular amount -- $50, for example -- your bank will send you an e-mail or text notification. If it's an expected transaction, you can discard the message; if not, you'll be able to respond immediately.
Every year, you are entitled to a free credit report from each of the reporting bureaus. Holland suggests taking advantage of this free service, noting that your credit report is a great way to track your outstanding debts and ensure that nobody is trying to open false accounts in your name. He emphasizes, however, that the best way to get your free report is by going to AnnualCreditReport.com, not FreeCreditReport.com. "That site's a scam," he laughs.
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