Is Marcus Hutchins walking around with a target on his back? Yes and no, is the reply from the 22-year-old British computer expert.
“I find it’s hard to say. There are two sides to it. One part of me basically is telling me that the perpetrators are incompetent amateurs, and the other that they are very competent and are merely pretending to be amateurs,” Marcus Hutchins says.
Wearing a T-shirt, light blue jeans and black skate shoes and donning a boyish grin, which erupts before each sentence he utters, he looks nothing like someone, who managed to stop the spread of a global cyberattack two weeks ago. He points to Copenhagen City Hall. “That is probably the biggest building I’ve ever seen in my life,” he says.
“Personally, I don’t buy the whole North Korea thing. I know that Symantec (the cybersecurity company) says that there are similarities between the codes, but this is easily forgeable. So it could either be a few nutters who stole some of the code, or it could be someone purposely trying to look like the Lazarus Group,” the young hacker from the South West England.
At present, Marcus Hutchins sits in a chair designed by famed designer Arne Jacobsen and fiddles with his phone. He is participating in the Copenhagen Cybercrime Conference arranged by the Confederation of Danish Industry, Finance Denmark, and the Danish security company CSIS. But two weeks ago, on Friday, 12 May, he sat in his red and black leather office chair in front of his three computer screen at home and discovered that the National Health Service (NHS) was under attack by a malicious ransomware virus.