Journalist gets hacked while writing the FBI vs Apple iPhone hack story
The recent United States court’s order to Apple for hack San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone and providing a backdoor for the agency has opened a all out war between the Apple supporters and FBI. The feud has divided the public, lawmakers, and tech CEOs over a person’s right to privacy versus the need for national security. Apple has argued that giving FBI a backdoor on one iPhone on one phone can open a gateway to all the iPhones and many agree with it.
One of the victims of this Apple vs FBI saga is Steven Petrow, who is a journalist with USA Today. On a recent American Airlines flight from Dallas to Raleigh, journalist Steven Petrow decided to write a story about the iPhone hacking case.
When the flight took off, Petrow’s stance on the matter was “I don’t really need to worry about online privacy,” he writes for USA Today. “I’ve got nothing to hide. And who would want to know what I’m up to, anyway?” But by the time Petrow landed, he found out “in a chillingly personal way” just how much the outcome of the Apple-FBI battle matters to everyone. That’s because Petrow had been hacked mid-flight.
Petrow logged in to the Gogo in-flight Internet connection to read and send emails to sources for his story. As the plane landed in Raleigh and Petrow got up to disembark, a passenger behind him revealed that he knew Petrow was a journalist and had just been working on the Apple-FBI story. The passenger even recited an email Petrow had received from a security expert back to him almost verbatim.
This passenger who turned out to be the hacker, told Petrow, “That’s how I know you’re interested in the Apple story. Imagine if you had been doing a financial transaction. What if you were making a date to see a whore?”
The fact that Petrow was hacked mid-flight isn’t so shocking. It’s easy to get hacked on a public Wi-Fi network like Gogo. What was most shocking to Petrow was how this in-flight hacking clarified his stance on the Apple-FBI battle.
“My mind raced: What about my health records? My legal documents? My Facebook messages? That’s why this story is so important to everyone. It’s about everyone’s privacy,” he writes. “I may have been wearing my jacket, but I felt as exposed as if I’d been stark naked.”