Hutchins stopped the spread of the WannaCry ransomware when he discovered accidentally discovered a “kill switch”. Working on his own from his small bedroom in his parent’s home, Hutchins has been lauded for his computer skills in the wake of the attack.
The WannaCry attack spread to more than 230,000 computers in scores of countries, affecting major organisations including the NHS, Renault and O2. Using a vulnerability in Microsoft’s Windows operating system discovered by US security agencies, WannaCry locked victims’ computers and demanded a $300 ransom.
Hutchins found a way to stop the virus from rapidly spreading. He was given a $10,000 (£7,600) reward for the effort, which he donated to charity.
The ethical hacker, who is largely self-taught and did not go to university, was in the US for the world’s largest annual conventions for security experts, BlackHat and DefCon.
His arrest comes as more than £100,000 of digital currency bitcoin that was paid by victims of the WannaCry attack was withdrawn from the hackers’ online wallets.