Millennials often get dragged for their failures and entitled behavior, but hardly get praise when they save the entire world. And when it comes to cybersecurity, it’s like wearing pants: you don’t notice when it’s there, but you notice when it’s missing.
Marcus Hutchins, a 22-year-old cybersecurity researcher known online by his alias “MalwareTech,” and Darien Russ, a 28-year-old research engineer who works at the cybersecurity firm Proofpoint, are heroes after finding a killswitch on a cyberextortion scheme that attacked companies worldwide on Friday.
The “WannaCry” infection is a ransomware computer worm that targeted over 230,000 computers in 150 countries demanding a ransom of $300-$600 from Microsoft Windows users through the digital currency of Bitcoin.
Hutchins and Huss began communicating on Friday and found a killswitch by redirecting the ransomware attacks to a registered domain on Hutchin’s server. They then created what’s called a sinkhole to contain the “WannaCry” infection.
“I think the security industry as a whole should be considered heroes,” Huss told ABC News.
Hutchins warned that while this initial threat was over, more cyberattacks could be on the way just like this one. “One thing that is very important to note is our sinkholing only stops this sample and there is nothing stopping them removing the domain check and trying again, so it’s incredibly important that any unpatched systems are patched as quickly as possible.”
Think of the damage this software could’ve caused if we didn’t have young adults like Hutchins or Huss to stop it with their technical skills and savviness. While baby boomers and Gen-Xers complain about millennial culture and us being on our phones, tablets, and laptops all the time, some of them are familiarizing themselves with pushing the limits on technology to be ready to protect the most vulnerable to these types of cyberattacks. We’re not all just Snapchatting or posting on Twitter.
It’s time to stop bashing millennials and let us help the world.