A 22-year-old man from the United Kingdom was identified as the person who helped slow down the worldwide spread of a malware virus that’s infected thousands of computers.
Marcus Hutchins, a U.K. cybersecurity researcher known as MalwareTech on Twitter, registered a domain name hidden in the malware to track the virus.
“I was quickly able to get a sample of the malware with the help of Kafeine, a good friend and fellow researcher,” Hutchins wrote Sunday, per Business Insider. “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).”
The WannaCry ransomware started in Europe on Friday morning, hitting new targets in Japan and China as of Monday, NPR reported.
Users are confronted with a prompt that demands $300 to restore their files. Some 200,000 computers may have been infected.
“The U.S. is still in a relatively good place — I don’t want to jinx it,” a Department of Homeland Security official told the broadcaster. “We don’t have a large number of victims right now, and we, for the most part, are not seeing significant operational impacts for those who have been victimized. They’ve been able to manage through it.”