I (Johnny Long) have some opinions regards Marcus Hutchins, aka @malwaretech. If you don’t know the details, here is one overview. Be advised that I’m not a lawyer, and my opinions are not about the law, rather, about what this case means to me personally.
Marcus made mistakes and bad choices.. But who hasn’t? Sometimes there are consequences. But he’s made a series of excellent choices and shown what I think is his true character through those choices.
After all, he did stop the “biggest ransomware offensive in history”. Yes, he stopped it. Even he will admit that it was an accident. But he could have easily let it run. He could have chosen to let it pass, but he didn’t. He also received a significant chunk of change as a “reward” for stopping the offensive and he turned around and gave that reward to charity. Full disclosure: He gave some of the money to the non-profit I started, Hackers For Charity. This was an astounding thing to do.
Now, he is facing consequences of the reported “bad choices” he made before he became one of the greatest “reluctant heroes” of our industry. This is normal. This is the law. If things go his way tomorrow and in the days that follow, his consequences may consist of nothing more than a life temporarily disrupted and “time served” since he was picked up on his way home from DEFCON almost two weeks ago.
He’s facing prosecution obviously, but I can’t help but think he’s also facing persecution for his good choices because frankly, the “enemy” (whether you think that’s Satan — as I do — or opt to think it’s something else) would often rather see us fold in on ourselves right when we’re about to make a turn that will put us on a more positive path.
This is a real thing. I’ve seen it time and time again in my life and the life of others.
Sometimes this world doesn’t “allow” good to flourish. It’s a fight, and it takes effort.
But from what I know about Marcus, he’s a good guy. This is not just my opinion, but the opinion of close friends that have spent a lot of time with him in the past days.
Yes, there are consequences for bad choices, but there’s also redemption. I believe that. In fact, in my VERY personal experience it can take a lifetime to come to terms with bad choices and choose goodness and light. It’s something that take minute-by-minute effort and the struggle is real.
Marcus is now more a public figure than ever before. And I can tell you that’s not easy task, especially for a guy so young, and like most of us hackers, more comfortable in front of the keyboard than in front of a world-wide audience. But the fact is, he’s a “reluctant hero” who may have been into some pretty gray stuff, but has seemed to turn a corner and make good choices. Even though many in our community have no dark side, and some have no light, he’s an almost-perfect representative of may in the hacker community: a gradient of gray moving towards white.
I don’t mean to put undue pressure on Marcus, or unnecessarily put him on a pedestal, but I can relate to what he’s going through, and I’m proud of the good choices he’s made. All I can do at this point is encourage him to stay strong and keep embracing good choices.
The road ahead may be tough, but I’ve seen a glimmer of who Marcus is through my own experience and the personal experience of close friends and I want to encourage him to fight against the darkness in a world that seems to smother light and right far too often.
Keep your chin up, Marcus. You’re an encouragement for your good choices and our thoughts and prayers are with you as you fight the fight tomorrow and in the days to come.