Cyber attack hero ‘Fears more for privacy than personal safety’

The British IT expert credited with slowing the spread of the global cyber attack has claimed he is more concerned for his privacy than his safety.

The security researcher, named in reports as Marcus Hutchins, was hailed an “accidental hero” for his discovery of the WannaCry virus’s kill switch.

British IT expert Marcus Hutchins who has been branded a hero for slowing down the WannaCry global cyber attack

British IT expert Marcus Hutchins who has been branded a hero for slowing down the WannaCry global cyber attack

Despite saying he feared a “terrible” retribution for his efforts, the 22-year-old clarified that he wished to be left to carry out his business in peace.

An international operation is under way to find the perpetrators behind the unprecedented attack which has infected 200,000 machines in 150 countries since Friday.

Speaking to MailOnline, the cyber specialist, known as MalwareTech, said: “In future someone might want to retaliate - they could find my identity within seconds.

“If they know where I live, they could really do anything.”

But on Monday, he tweeted: “For the record I don’t ‘fear for my safety’, I’m just unhappy with trying to help clear up Friday’s mess with the doorbell going constantly.”

In his interview, MalwareTech referred to the case of another security blogger who was subject to intimidation, including death threats, after his identity was leaked online.

“I’ve seen posts about the terrible things people have done to him and for me in future it could be the same things,” MalwareTech said.

Writing on his Twitter account, he said journalists had already tracked down a friend, whose photograph was published in the press and turned up at her house. He said: “Please if you want an interview that badly, DM me.”

On Monday, he added: “Current Policy: if you turn up at my house you’re crossed off the list of potential media outlets I will do an exclusive with.”

The online community pleaded for his identity not to be outed online - a research process known as “doxing” - to protect him.

MalwareTech himself wrote: “I always thought I’d be doxed by skids (people in hacking forums), but turns out Journalists are 100x better at doxing.”

But he added: “I guess the upside is now I can be a selfie queen and livestream because I’ve got no opsec (operations security) left.”

The keen surfer, who reportedly lives in Devon, was praised by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) for his part in tackling the ransomware’s propagation around the world.

He became an international sensation after he prevented hundreds of thousands of computers from being infected by the virus that wreaked havoc across the NHS.

The blogger said he was “jumping around a room with the excitement” after he discovered that activating a specific web domain could disable the worm.

MalwareTech said he had also been providing the NCSC with data to help notify infected companies, warning that computers which had not had their security brought up to date will be vulnerable to further attack.