Teenager arrested for computer tampering after 911 prank in US


An 18-year-old developer allegedly exploited an iOS vulnerability to manipulate iPhones into taking down the 911 emergency system in Arizona. Police arrested the teenager, who said it was a prank he had accidentally launched, soon after the attack.

Meetkumar Hiteshbhai Desai allegedly exploited iPhones to make repeated 911 calls and then hang up without users knowing their phones were involved. To carry out the attack, he is accused of using the YouTube channel TheHackSpot and a fake Twitter account with 12,000 followers he encouraged to click on a link. Following the investigation, authorities found the link had been clicked 1,849 times. The ‘prank’ affected the entire Phoenix metro area and agencies in California and Texas.

When arrested, Desai made contradictory statements last Tuesday, according to the local sheriff’s office. At first he claimed he wanted to “make a non-harmful, but annoying bug that he believed was ‘funny’,” afterwards that he wanted to present a list of bugs to Apple and make money from his research, while later claiming he wanted to be recognized as a skilled developer in the community.

Authorities said he also claimed he only wanted to manipulate the devices to “add annoying pop ups, commands to open email, and activate the telephone dialing feature on iOS cell phones by utilizing a java script code that he created.”

He was arrested for computer tampering and charged on three counts of “Computer Tampering, a class 2 felony due to the critical infrastructure that was involved, which had the possibility of seriously disrupting the emergency 911 system for the entire Phoenix metro area and possibly even other states.”

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