The British computer expert credited with halting the global WannaCry cyber attack failed IT in school.
Speaking to The Daily Mail in an interview published on Monday, Mr Marcus Hutchins, 22, said he was suspended in 2010 after being accused of hacking into his school’s system.
“The school server had been attacked and the network was down. I was online at the time and I saw the network slowing down. They handed me some papers which showed I was online then and chatting with my friends on the school network.
“Then that was it, I was suspended for something I never did,” said Mr Hutchins, who is from south-west England. He is a researcher at Kryptos Logic, a Los Angeles-based threat intelligence company.
After that, he was banned from using Internet-connected computers, which meant he had to complete his GCSE, the British equivalent of O levels, in IT on paper – which he failed.
The self-taught cyber security expert is also working with the UK government’s National Cyber Security Centre to prevent a new strain of the malicious software from emerging.
The attack stopped spreading when Mr Hutchins, helped by Mr Darien Huss from security firm Proofpoint, accidentally triggered a “kill switch”.
In an interview with Associated Press on Monday, Mr Hutchins said he does not consider himself a hero, and fights malware because “it is the right thing to do”.
Kryptos Logic chief executive Salim Neino said Mr Hutchins took over the “kill switch” on Friday afternoon (European time) before it could fully affect the US.