Shooter's iPhone Could Harbor 'Dormant Cyber Pathogen', Claims San Bernardino DA

DA Michael A RamosThe iPhone at the center of the ongoing encryption dispute between Apple and the FBI may contain a "dormant cyber pathogen", according to the San Bernardino county District Attorney.

The curious claim appears in an amicus brief filed by Michael Ramos with a California court on Thursday. In the document, Ramos speculates that the iPhone used by terror suspect Syed Rizwan Farook "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's infrastructure."

The apparent threat is cited as a violation of California Penal Code Section §502, covering protections against tampering, interference, damage and unauthorized access to computer systems. The reference suggests Ramos believes that some sort of malware may be contained on the iPhone, but offers no justification for the claim, nor the odd nature of its wording.

"It sounds like he's making up these terms as he goes," said iPhone forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski, speaking to Ars Technica about the filing. "We've never used these terms in computer science." Zdziarski believes that the amicus is simply designed to mislead the courts and manipulate a decision in the FBI's favor. "It offers no evidence whatsoever that the device has, or even might have, malware on it. It offers no evidence that their network was ever compromised."

The claim in the court filing is the first time that a law enforcement agency has alluded to what may be contained on the iPhone at the center of the federal investigation. It also runs counter to the FBI's main dispute with Apple that it requires assistance from the company precisely in order to ascertain its content.

Separately, a number of amicus briefs were filed on Thursday in support of Apple's stance in the dispute. The full list of submitted documents have been catalogued on Apple's website. Additionally, five families of San Bernardino victims have filed in support of the FBI.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

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58 months ago


Yeah! And monkeys might fly out of my butt!
Score: 53 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
58 months ago
The FBI must be allowed to rotate the widget on the carbuncle, before the whizz-bang is atomised with a spudger-wrench or else this phone will kill us all!
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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58 months ago
That iPhone also might contain porn.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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58 months ago
This is just an "attempt" to swing this issue from "its over and done with" to something more sinister like "if we can't access it now, people will die later"....I believe Fox network tried this on the tv show "24".....
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
58 months ago
OMG, WHAT ARE THEY WAITING FOR? BURN IT, BURN IT NOW! THAT PATHOGEN NEEDS TO BE DESTYROYED NOW!
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
58 months ago
It could also hold the...
Secrets to Life, the Universe, and Everything (42)
Nuclear Launch Codes (000000000 - Kennedy was afraid that he would forget them)
The lost books of the Bible (What did Moses and Jesus do on their days off?)
The highest word score possible for a good game of Scrabble (No, JXQUIZ isn't a word)
What the San Bernardino terrorists had for lunch that day (wait, that's already on Facebook)
How men can know what women are thinking (If this makes you mad, well, how was I supposed to know?)
The sports scores for every T-Ball game for the next 50 years (Back to the Future reference)
My lost homework from 8th grade (Started a downward trend that kept me off of the volleyball team)
The Lost Hits of Hansen, 2005-2015 (I do have a pirate recording of them in concert...)
Where Nicolas Cage put the roll of microfiche he found in "The Rock" (according to JHUFrank)
...
***edit*** I will be adding to the list, but it'll be in the same vein...
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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