You’ve heard of horror stories of people, sometimes celebrities, “accidentally” sharing compromising photos of themselves online. But have you heard of one that accidentally shared an iOS bug online that nearly brought the US’ 911 system down to its knees? No? Well, that is supposedly the case for 18-year old Meetkumar Hiteshbhai Desai who did such a thing in the hopes of getting Apple’s attention and getting into its exclusive bug bounty program. He got attention alright, but the police’s, who arrested the young hacker for felony computer tampering instead.
Desai’s case is allegedly a prank gone wrong. Well, a mindless prank perhaps. The aspiring bug hunter supposedly received a tip about an iOS bug that would repeatedly dial a number or show annoying popups by simply clicking on a link. But before submitting the bug to Apple, Desai, like any teenager with newfound powers, wanted to prank his friends first.
So he sent a link on Twitter that should have bombarded unsuspecting friends and netizens with popups. Instead, the link turned out to be the other kind, one that dialed a number instead. And what number was that? 911, of course. Over 1,849 people allegedly clicked on the link, each of which made a call to 911 and then hung up.
911 call centers all over the US reportedly experienced a sudden spike in hung-up 911 calls, but the hardest hit was in Phoenix where Desai, and presumably many of his Twitter followers, resided. The flood of such calls almost knocked offline at least one call center, the one in Surprise in Maricopa, Arizona.
Desai was arrested last Monday and was booked on three counts of felony computer tampering. It’s uncertain whether Desai’s claim of accidentally leaking the bug will fly in court. For now, however, he can probably kiss the bug bounty goodbye.