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Silent 911 dialler

No user intervention needed

In October 2016, an exploit for iOS was discovered which caused iPhones to repeatedly dial 911 without any intervention from the user at all.

In some places, this hit so hard that the 911 emergency call center in one area was classed as being in "immediate danger" of losing service, and two more were also at risk.

The investigation into these incidents is now complete, and the results show it was much more serious than it first appeared.

The count of the number of calls made was first determined to be in the low hundreds, but it has now been established the number is massively higher. A single tweeted link was clicked on a total of 117,502 times - each click causing a 911 call to be made. 

"Just 6,000 infected iPhones could cripple a whole states 911 system"

The WSJ describes The Night Zombie Smartphones Took Down 911 - and it's not exaggerating. Only 420 911 call centres are said to be prepared for this kind of attack, and that's out of 6,500 nationwide.

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Created by a student

The code behind all this was allegendly created by Meetkumar Desai as a proof of concept which he made in order to collect a bug bounty from Apple. He intended it only to pop up a message dialog whioch could then be dismissed, but instead a version which called 911 without the users intervention was posted. He's been charged with four felony counts related to computer misuse, and has yet to enter a plea.

Apple has promised a fix which will cause a dialog to pop up before automatically dialling 911, to which the users must respond, and therefore break the cycle of endless automated calls.