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

MrTemple Avatar
68 months ago


Yeah! And monkeys might fly out of my butt!
Score: 53 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Porco Avatar
68 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)
John Mcgregor Avatar
68 months ago
That iPhone also might contain porn.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jthesssin Avatar
68 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)
Ries Avatar
68 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)
JeffyTheQuik Avatar
68 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)

Top Stories

General Music and AirPod 3 Feature

Rumor: Apple to Announce Third-Generation AirPods and HiFi Apple Music Tier on May 18

Thursday May 13, 2021 10:32 pm PDT by
A new rumor suggests that Apple will announce the third-generation AirPods and the recently rumored HiFi, or high-fidelity Apple Music tier, on Tuesday, May 18, via a press release on its website. The new rumor comes from Apple YouTuber Luke Miani who shared the alleged exclusive news with the AppleTrack website. According to the YouTuber, Apple plans to release the next-generation AirPods...
apple park drone june 2018 2

Apple Fires Newly Hired Ex-Facebook Product Manager Following Revelations of Past Misogynistic Comments

Thursday May 13, 2021 12:10 am PDT by
Apple has fired Antonio García Martínez, an ex-Facebook product manager and author of the controversial book "Chaos Monkeys," following public and internal calls for removal and investigation due to past misogynistic statements, The Verge reports. Apple hired Martínez earlier this week to join its ads team, however, comments that Martínez made in the past sparked condemnation from users...
imac m1 blue isolated 16x9 500k

M1 iMac is Up to 56% Faster Than Prior-Generation High-End 21.5-Inch iMac

Wednesday May 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Apple's M1 iMacs are set to start delivering to customers next week, and ahead of the official launch day, benchmarks for the machines have been showing up on Geekbench, likely from reviewers who are testing them. It will come as no surprise that M1 iMac benchmarks are right on par with benchmarks for the M1 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini, coming in with an average single-core score...
2021 mbp hdmi slot 3d

2021 MacBook Pro Leaks Confirm Returning MagSafe and Ports

Friday May 14, 2021 3:06 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming MacBook Pro models are expected to feature a number of major changes such as larger display options and powerful new Apple silicon chips. Among the more surprising updates to this year's MacBook Pro models is the return of three ports that have been missing from the machines for over five years. Expected to come in 14- and 16-inch sizes, the 2021 MacBook Pro models are...
fortnite apple logo 2

Judge in Epic vs. Apple Case Floats Potential Compromise

Wednesday May 12, 2021 3:54 pm PDT by
In the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Epic Games, the two companies are this week calling up their expert witnesses to argue their points before Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who will make a decision in the case after a three week trial. Expert testimony is not as exciting as some of the leaked App Store documents that were highlighted last week, especially as much of what's being...
google photos

PSA: Google Photos Unlimited Storage Ends Next Month, Here's How to Export Your Pictures to iCloud

Thursday May 13, 2021 5:26 am PDT by
For as long as it's existed, Google Photos has offered free unlimited storage for uploading images at a reduced yet good enough quality for most users. From June 1, 2021, however, all photos and videos uploaded to Google accounts will count against users' cloud storage. If you've been relying on Google to back up your media library, it may be time to move that content elsewhere. This article...
AirTag in Envelope Feature 2

AirTag Used to Successfully Track a Mailed Package Across the UK

Wednesday May 12, 2021 8:44 am PDT by
An Apple customer in the United Kingdom has successfully used Apple's Find My network to track an AirTag as it was being sent by mail to a friend in a completely different city. Outlined in a blog post at Intego, Kirk McElhearn said he taped an AirTag to a piece of card, wrapped it inside a small bubble envelope, and then sent it on its way. Kirk lives in the small town of...
m1 ipad pro chip

M1 iPad Pro Over 50% Faster Than Previous Generation in Early Benchmarks

Tuesday May 11, 2021 11:56 am PDT by
Last month, Apple introduced a new iPad Pro with the same M1 chip found in the latest Macs, and early benchmark results indicate that the M1 iPad Pro is over 50% faster than the previous-generation iPad Pro. Based on five legitimate Geekbench 5 results (here's the fifth) for the fifth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the M1 chip, the device has average single-core and multi-core scores of...
prosser macbook air colors stacked

Images Reveal Colorful New MacBook Air Design

Tuesday May 11, 2021 5:06 am PDT by
Apple's next MacBook Air will feature a completely new design and come in a range of colors like the 24-inch iMac, according to leaker Jon Prosser, who has now released supposedly accurate renders of the new machines based on leaked images. In a new video uploaded to YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Prosser elaborated on his previous prediction that Apple's next-generation MacBook Air models ...
iPhone 13 Camera Backs

iPhone 13 Models Will Be Slightly Thicker and Will Have Larger Camera Bumps

Monday May 10, 2021 10:41 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 models will be slightly thicker than the iPhone 12 models and will also feature larger, thicker camera bumps with lenses that protrude less, according to iPhone 13 schematics seen by MacRumors. The new iPhone 13 and 13 Pro models are expected to feature a thickness of 7.57mm, up from 7.4mm in the iPhone 12 models. That's an increase of 0.17mm, which won't be hugely ...