In a novel twist in the FBI versus Apple iPhone case, the San Bernardino District Attorney’s office has filed a motion (full text below) to submit an Amicus Curiae brief, stating that, among other things, the phone could harbor a “lying dormant cyber pathogen.” Of course, there’s no such thing as a lying dormant cyber pathogen, but why let a little thing like the facts get in the way of a good argument?
The seized IPhone 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…
Says San Bernardino District Attorney Michael Ramos, in the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Application to Participate as Amicus Curiae in the case, “The iPhone is a county owned telephone that may have connected to the San Bernardino County computer network. The seized IPhone (sic) 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, a violation of Cal. Penal Code ss 502 (Lexis 2016) and poses a continuing threat to the citizens of San Bernardino County.”
(Emphasis added by us; poor grammar and punctuation provided by DA Ramos.)
The thrust of Ramos’ “lying dormant cyber pathogen” is that there may be some sort of malicious software on the phone which shooter Farook had intended to release on the county’s computer network.
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A “lying dormant cyber pathogen” is an interesting idea, but that’s all that it is – an idea that Ramos came up with while clutching at straws.
An idea which is so unspeakably ridiculous that Ramos is already being ridiculed not just across the U.S., but around the world (see, for example, What’s a ‘cyber pathogen’? San Bernardino DA baffles security community in The Guardian.)
Closer to home, security experts across the nation chimed in both in online print, and on Twitter.
arstechnica’s David Kravets points out that the inevitable comparisons to unicorns have already come out.
In his article Kravets also says that Ramos “told the Associated Press that his cyber doom suggestion was out of thin air.”
We’ve looked at that AP interview, and while we can’t see anywhere that Ramos actually says that he made it up, he does say that there isn’t actually any evidence of malicious software in the county’s computer network, adding, however, that “I wouldn’t call it a total hypothetical,” and saying that “This was a county employee that murdered 14 people and injured 22. Did he use the county’s infrastructure? Did he hack into that infrastructure? I don’t know. In order for me to really put that issue to rest, there is one piece of evidence that would absolutely let us know that, and that would be the iPhone.”
Here is the full text of the motion – please try to keep in mind that not all lawyers write so poorly (and those that do should not be allowed to file papers with the court, as they only serve to make their employer look that much worse). We get that the county is likely strapped for cash and so can’t afford to pay for quality, but still – we’re just sayin’.
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