IDG Contributor Network: How a 22-year-old accidentally flipped the WannaCry kill switch

Last Friday, a huge cyber-attack infiltrated and crippled the computer systems of hospitals, schools, companies and government organizations, until a 22-year-old accidently shut it down. The malicious software shut down a reported 100,000 computers since its release early that morning. As the ransomware spread throughout networks and systems, reportedly through a known Microsoft vulnerability, people were treated to pop-ups stating that their information was encrypted unless a payment was made to release the key.

Almost 100 countries in Europe and Asia were hit by this worm-like malware, until UK cyber-security researcher, Marcus Hutchins, began investigating the spread and unknowingly flipped a hidden kill-switch, seemingly stopping it in its tracks. The 22-year-old, known by his online pseudonym, MalwareTech, noticed as soon as the software installed itself onto the machine, it sent a message to an unregistered web address.

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