San Bernardino DA Boldly Claims Terrorist’s iPhone Contains ‘Dormant Cyber Pathogen’ Which Necessitates Unlock

One of the most important legal matters of our time is playing out right before our very eyes. It involves Apple and its unwillingness to comply with a court order to assist the FBI with cracking the security on an iPhone 5c model that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters, and while we've heard intelligent arguments from both sides, things just took a turn towards Crazy Town.

San Bernardino's District Attorney Michael Ramos is responsible for navigating the case in that direction by warning of a "cyber pathogen" that might be "lying dormant" on the iPhone 5c model that's causing such a fuss. What, you've never heard of a cyber pathogen before? Neither has anyone else.

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Ramos made the dubious claim in an amicus brief filed on behalf of the FBI.

"The iPhone is a county owned telephone that may have connected to the San Bernardino County computer network. 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 that endangers San Bernardino County’s infrastructure… and poses a continuing threat to the citizens of San Bernardino County," Ramos wrote.

It didn't take long for the Internet to pounce on Ramos' comments.

"Cyber pathogens are so unspeakably dangerous that the open research community has wisely never published a single paper about them," security researcher and university professor Matt Blaze posted to Twitter.

Ramos supports the FBI's position that Apple should build what essentially amounts to a backdoor into the iPhone that would allow authorities to crack the passcode that's protecting its contents. There are valid arguments to be made in support of that position (just as there are valid arguments to be made in opposition), but claiming the possible presence of a cyber pathogen falls somewhere between silly and misinformed.

It's anyone's guess what Ramos was really trying to warn about, but it sounds like he's saying there's a program on the phone that could infect local networks with some type of malware. If that's the case, forget about unlocking the iPhone, let's put it on a rocket aimed at the sun instead.