Teen arrested for iPhone hack that unleashed attack on 911 emergency system

18-year old Meetkumar Hiteshbhai Desai was arrested for flooding the 911 system with emergency calls.

Meetkumar Hiteshbhai Desai was arrested on three counts of computer tampering, two of which incorporate class 2 felonies, as the 911 system is considered critical infrastructureGetty Images

Eighteen-year-old iPhone app developer Meetkumar Hiteshbhai Desai was arrested by Arizona's Maricopa County Cyber Crimes Unit after he shared a code on Twitter that led to nearly shutting down the 911 emergency system in major areas of Arizona and possibly other states.

According to authorities, Desai created a JavaScript exploit, which he shared with his friends on Twitter and other websites. The link shared by Desai saw users who clicked on it have their iPhones automatically and repeatedly dial 911. The volume of the calls allegedly put the responders and authorities "in immediate danger of losing services to their switches". Authorities said apart from Arizona, agencies in California and Texas were also affected.

According to law enforcement authorities, Desai's link, which was posted on more than one Twitter account and TheHackSpot YouTube channel, was clicked over 1,800 times. The operator of the YouTube channel said: "The link does not contain anything harmful, and I am not associated with any type of personal hacking. Just a fun prank that many other big YouTube channels covered as well," ArsTechnica reported.

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A press release from the Maricopa County's Sheriff's Office said: "The Surprise Police Department received the over (100) hang up 911 phone calls within a matter of minutes due to this cyber-attack and were in immediate danger of losing service to their switches. The Peoria Police Department and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office also received a large volume of these repeated 911 hang up calls and had the potential danger of losing service throughout Maricopa County.

"Sheriff's Detectives were able to identify 'Meet' as the suspect behind the 911 disruption and was taken into custody and transported him to the Major Crimes Division for questioning late last night. Meet explained to Sheriff's detectives that he was interested in programs, bugs, and viruses which he could manipulate and change to later inform Apple about how to fix their bug issues for further iOS updates. He claimed that Apple would pay for information about bugs and viruses and provide that particular programmer with credit for the discovery."

Desai was arrested on three counts of computer tampering, two of which incorporate class 2 felonies, as the 911 system is considered critical infrastructure. It is still unclear as to whether Desai has entered a plea and what penalties and/or fines he faces.

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