San Bernardino prosecutor raises concerns about ‘cyber pathogen’ in terrorist's iPhone

Experts are questioning whether such a thing as a 'cyber pathogen' at all exists

The district attorney of San Bernardino County, Michael Ramos, has raised concerns about the possibility of a 'dormant cyber pathogen’ in the iPhone 5c used by a terrorist in attacks in the county on Dec. 2.

Security experts are questioning whether such a thing as a cyber pathogen at all exists.

The submission was made in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Eastern Division, which recently ordered Apple to help the FBI unlock by brute force the iPhone used by terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook. Apple has refused to help the FBI and raised privacy and security issues.

The iPhone, owned by the San Bernardino county, may have connected to the county computer network, and “may contain evidence that can only be found on the seized phone that it was used as a weapon to introduce a lying dormant cyber pathogen that endangers San Bernardino County’s infrastructure," according to the court filing.

But Jonathan Zdziarski, an expert in iOS related digital forensics and security, said in a blog post that he had found no evidence after a Google search of any such pathogen. “There is absolutely nothing in the universe that knows what a cyber pathogen is,” he wrote.

The statements are not only misleading, but amount to "blatant fear mongering," Zdziarski wrote. He added that they were designed to “manipulate the court into making a ruling for the FBI."

On Thursday, a number of tech companies including Google and Facebook and privacy and civil rights groups filed amicus curiae, or friend-of-the-court, briefs in Apple’s favor.

The district attorney’s office could not be immediately reached for comment on the pathogen.

Apple has been ordered by Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym to offer its technical assistance, including if required provide signed software, to bypass or disable an auto-erase function on the phone. The feature could be activated, if the function has been turned on, after 10 unsuccessful tries at testing passcodes on the device. The auto-erase function would delete the data on the phone that the FBI hopes will give it clues to the terrorist attack that killed 14 people.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags applefbi

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?