Opinion

The San Bernardino iPhone Could Be Patient Zero

The San Bernardino iPhone Could Be Patient Zero

 The controversy and speculations surrounding this humble 8GB iPhone 5C continues. A lot of people are probably thinking, if the Farooks smashed all their electronic equipment before going out to party, why did Syed not destroy his Phone 5C which is now the center of attention in the tech community? Was Syed a devoted Apple fan? Which is a grave sin by the way. The phone should be the first one he destroys and he needs to shoot himself on the foot for object idolatry. Did he just make an honest mistake of not including his iPhone into the mix of gadgets to go? Was it so well hidden that they had no time to look for it in their rush to ‘off’ some party-goers? Or did they set up the iPhone to be found to prank the cops into hacking the iPhone only to find a ‘Rickroll’ and later a suicide message? Was he so afraid of his boss that he dares not lay a hand on his company-issued iPhone? And lastly, the phone may have been left to be found by the cops only to unleash some kind of electronic pathogen to the world should the phone be hacked? That’s some crazy sci-fi grade stuff if the latter turns out to be true. The iPhone in question could possibly hold a ‘dormant cyber pathogen’ that could cripple systems in San Bernardino as per Michael Ramos, the county’s district attorney. The iPhone was left intentionally for the Feds to find in order for the government themselves to release the cyber-pathogen and damage government systems. But is the iPhone that hackable? Does Syed or ISIS have the chops to actually create that kind of malware? Mr. Ramos seems to think so while iPhone forensics expert Jonathan Zdiarsky thinks that Mr. Ramos is only spooking the public in order to prove the FBIs point that Apple should open the phone. “…It sound like he’s making up these terms as he goes… We’ve never used these terms in computer science… This reads as an amicus attempt to manipulate the court’s decision in the FBI’s favor… It offers no evidence whatsoever that the device has, or might even have, malware on it. It offers no evidence that their network was ever compromised.” -- Jonathan Zdiarsky, iPhone forensics expert, Ars Technica interview It’s strange for Mr. Zdiarsky to think so as Mr. Ramos might be doing the opposite. If the phone was hacked and loaded with malware, then the phone could be a setup. So Mr. Ramos is basically warning the government not to open the iPhone. That he could be on Apple’s side of the orchard. Open the phone, then BOOM! There goes San Bernardino or whatever area the phone might be opened. It is pretty suspicious that the Farooks leave their iPhone unscathed while rendering everything else as e-waste. Mr. Ramos is probably a big fan of sci-fi or spy movies where terrorists rig phones and other equipment as booby traps that blow up when touched. It’s been shown in several movies that phones blow up when answered by unsuspecting victims. But there are no reports so far of any amount of explosives within the suspected iPhone. The Feds could crack the phone itself open (if not the passcode) to find out if they haven’t already. If there’s anything malicious to be released upon cracking, it would be malware. Again, there’s the question whether Syed Farook or ISIS has the talent to create something purportedly so damaging using iOS. Once open, instead of a harmless Rickroll or a suicide video, from Syed himself, the iPhone could connect to the local Wi-Fi and spread its damaging payload inside a government facility or even Apple itself. Now there would be two issues at hand. Violating the people’s rights to privacy and the danger of potentially releasing a dangerous Skynet-like malware. The solution to which would be very simple. Open the phone in the middle of the desert where there’s no communication coverage whatsoever, if the Feds win of course.

The controversy and speculations surrounding this humble 8GB iPhone 5C continues. A lot of people are probably thinking if the Farooks smashed all their electronic equipment before going out to party, why did Syed not destroy his Phone 5C which is now the center of attention in the tech community?

Was Syed a devoted Apple fan? Which is a grave sin by the way. The phone should be the first one he destroys, and he needs to shoot himself in the foot for object idolatry.

Did he just make an honest mistake of not including his iPhone into the mix of gadgets to go? Was it so well hidden that they had no time to look for it in their rush to ‘off’ some party-goers?

Or did they set up the iPhone to be found to prank the cops into hacking the iPhone only to find a ‘Rickroll’ and later a suicide message?

Was he so afraid of his boss that he dares not lay a hand on his company-issued iPhone?

And lastly, the phone may have been left to be found by the cops only to unleash some kind of electronic pathogen to the world should the phone be hacked?

That’s some crazy sci-fi grade stuff if the latter turns out to be true. The iPhone in question could possibly hold a ‘dormant cyber pathogen’ that could cripple systems in San Bernardino as per Michael Ramos, the county’s district attorney. The iPhone was left intentionally for the Feds to find in order for the government themselves to release the cyber-pathogen and damage government systems.

But is the iPhone that hackable? Does Syed or ISIS have the chops to actually create that kind of malware? Mr. Ramos seems to think so while iPhone forensics expert Jonathan Zdiarsky thinks that Mr. Ramos is only spooking the public in order to prove the FBIs point that Apple should open the phone.

“…It sound like he’s making up these terms as he goes… We’ve never used these terms in computer science… This reads as an amicus attempt to manipulate the court’s decision in the FBI’s favor… It offers no evidence whatsoever that the device has, or might even have, malware on it. It offers no evidence that their network was ever compromised.”

— Jonathan Zdiarsky, iPhone forensics expert, Ars Technica interview

It’s strange for Mr. Zdiarsky to think so as Mr. Ramos might be doing the opposite. If the phone was hacked and loaded with malware, then the phone could be a setup. So Mr. Ramos is basically warning the government not to open the iPhone. That he could be on Apple’s side of the orchard. Open the phone, and then BOOM! There goes San Bernardino or whatever area the phone might be opened. It is pretty suspicious that the Farooks leave their iPhone unscathed while rendering everything else as e-waste.

fbi fight with apple over san bernandino iphone 2016Mr. Ramos is probably a big fan of sci-fi or spy movies where terrorists rig phones and other equipment as booby traps that blow up when touched. It’s been shown in several movies that phones blow up when answered by unsuspecting victims. But there are no reports so far of any amount of explosives within the suspected iPhone. The Feds could crack the phone itself open (if not the passcode) to find out if they haven’t already. If there’s anything malicious to be released upon cracking, it would be malware. Again, there’s the question whether Syed Farook or ISIS has the talent to create something purportedly so damaging using iOS.

Once open, instead of a harmless Rickroll or a suicide video, from Syed himself, the iPhone could connect to the local Wi-Fi and spread its damaging payload inside a government facility or even Apple itself. Now there would be two issues at hand. Violating the people’s rights to privacy and the danger of potentially releasing a dangerous Skynet-like malware. The solution to which would be very simple. Open the phone in the middle of the desert where there’s no communication coverage whatsoever, if the Feds win of course.

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