Marcus Hutchins was a relatively unknown British cybersecurity researcher until he helped stop the “WannaCry” ransomware attack that plagued countless companies, hospitals, and governments around the world earlier this year. The “WannaCry” software locked a computer until the user paid the perpetrators a ransom of roughly three hundred dollars.
Hutchins discovered that the virus could be stopped by controlling a specific website and then purchased the site for a little over ten dollars. While he initially hoped to simply track the spread of the virus, purchasing the site triggered a kill-switch that put an end to the global attack.
Hutchins tried his best to remain anonymous, going instead by his Twitter handle, but it only took a matter of days for journalists to discover his identity. Now he’s back in the news, but for a much more sobering reason.
It turns out the man who saved the world’s computers had allegedly crafted and sold some malware of his own a few years prior.
The program was intended to steal banking information and was made available for several thousand dollars. It’s unclear how many used the program, or the extent of the damage, but Hutchins has since been arrested outside the Las Vegas airport and indicted on six counts of computer fraud.
While his guilt is uncertain, Hutchins serves as yet another example of the precarious, though necessary, balance we must walk in a realm where those most equipped to defend us are also those best positioned to do us harm.
While that balance may seem unsettling, most of us live with it every day—perhaps not so much with internet hackers or matters of cyber-warfare, but that precarious vulnerability defines every one of our closest relationships.
Those who know us best are always going to be the ones who can hurt us most deeply.
Perhaps that’s why many of us struggle to let others in: life simply seems easier if we can trade a bit of the happiness that might come from a deeper relationship for the added security of thinking we’ve better protected ourselves. Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of life to which Christ has called us.
When Jesus prayed that those who followed him might be united, his intention was that we would know the same sort of closeness and intimacy with our fellow believers that defined his relationship with the Father (John 17:20–21). While that doesn’t mean blindly trusting everyone who calls themselves Christians, it does mean we can’t go through life insulated from the world around us. After all, the primary purpose of that unity was so that “the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23).
The unbelieving world knows all too well humanity’s capacity for harm. They experience the consequences of those fallen relationships every day, and many have taken the necessary precautions to protect themselves. Deep down, however, there remains a common longing among us all for the kind of intimacy for which we were created.
Helping others to see that echo of a heavenly community, both through our relationships with other believers and through the way we interact with nonbelievers, is a fundamental part of our witness. And while that may mean getting hurt a bit more often than we’d like, the payoff can be eternal.