22-Year-old Who Stopped Global Cyberattack Donates His Reward to Charity

22-Year-old Who Stopped Global Cyberattack Donates His Reward to Charity

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A British youth who was awarded $10,000 for accidentally stopping an international cyberattack has just announced that he will be donating the cash to charity and education.

The 22-year-old, who goes by the pseudonym MalwareTech, shut down the spread of the malicious online program by activating the “kill-switch” last week after the cyberattack was reported in over 100 countries.

Organizations worldwide were infected by the malicious ransomware known as “WannaCry” – a program that encrypts the users files and holds them for ransom. If the user does not pay the several hundred dollar ransom in bitcoin on time, then all of the data and files stored on the computer are deleted. The National Health Organization, FedEx, Telefonica, and Nissan are all examples of corporate giants who were affected by the malware in addition to hospitals and businesses worldwide.

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When MalwareTech and his friends heard of the epidemic, they started investigating the malware’s code. The 22-year-old Brit then found an unregistered domain name in the source of the code that acted as an “abort” button for the malware. When he registered the domain name, the attack ceased.

Though he has preferred to keep his identity anonymous, MalwareTech has been flooded with praise since reports of his deed spread online. HackerOne, an organization that rewards online security techs for detecting and defecting bugs and malware, offered the hero a $10,000 reward.

“So @Hacker0x01 have awarded me a $10,000 bounty for the ‘kill-switch’. I plan on splitting it between to-be-decided charities and education,” says MalwareTech. “By education I mean I plan to purchase [information security] based books to give to students who cannot afford them themselves.”

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However, since sources have leaked that MalwareTech is a surfer who adores pizza, UK-based food delivery service Just Eat offered the youth free pizza for a year – which he says he is more prone towards accepting.

Though it sounds like the plot of a James Bond movie, the virus was a ransomware program that was being held by the U.S. government before it was leaked this weekend by an organization of hackers known as Shadow Brokers. The program was being stockpiled by the National Security Agency as a means of weaponizing it, should the need arise.

Microsoft, who discovered the malware one month prior, released a security patch immediately afterwards to protect their clients’ computers from the virus. However, since many organizations had not yet updated their systems, their computers were left vulnerable to the ransomware. Though Microsoft later berated the US government for harboring such dangerous programs, the company said that they have since been working to ensure that customers are properly able to recover from the incident.

“We take every single cyberattack on a Windows system seriously, and we’ve been working around the clock since Friday to help all our customers who have been affected by this incident,” Microsoft President Brad Smith announced on Friday. “This included a decision to take additional steps to assist users with older systems that are no longer supported. Clearly, responding to this attack and helping those affected needs to be our most immediate priority.”

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