CSI:Cyber Season 2 Episode 9 thoughts

It’s been awhile, the holidays had me very busy. The shows were starting to pile up on my DVR. This past weekend I finally got a chance to start watching them. First up was CSI:Cyber Episode 9 titled iWitness. It continues the quality I’ve been loving in season 2 so far. There were a few things that I had issues with but overall there were more things I liked about the episode. It was a great episode and I enjoyed the hell out of it. I’m also really anxious to get to my thoughts on episode 10. I watched both back to back and episode 10 was one of my 2 favorite episodes this season. It tied with the episode titled “Python” for me. But I’ll get to that one later lets get on with episode 9.

The first thing I was disappointed about was that there was no reference to Apple which I expected with a title like iWitness. It was a very, very, very minor thing but damn I was hoping for something. This episode started with the death of a well known hacker Quinn, known as the Queen of Hearts. The hacker was a gorgeous blonde which was all kinds of awesome for breaking from the usual portrayal of a hacker. She was good looking and seemed to have her life together. A nice change from the usual dark, angsty, loner stereotype. Quinn was living a double life with an alternate name and a new husband. Who seemed to have no idea about her alternate identity. Daniel retrieves the phone Quinn was clutching in her hands when she died. He takes apart the burnt phone taking note of the IMEI inside. After swapping the internals of the damaged phone to another phone he downloads the data from it. Brody and Raven then look through the data that was retrieved. Raven tells Avery that Quinn activated the digital assistant on the phone right before she died. Since the recording could be the last thing she ever said Raven calls for a subpoena to get the recording. Brody is surprised at how normal the phone looks since it was owned by a black hat. Then he notices that the calculator app is a very large size. It’s a gatekeeper which requires a passcode in order to allow access to a hidden partition on the phone. Neither Brody nor Raven have any ideas on how to break into it. So Brody calls Daniel to ask if he has any ideas. This was the next issue for me. I find it hard to believe that two black hats don’t have even a single idea to break into the partition. I would have liked it better if Brody and Raven were spitting ideas at each other about ways to get into the hidden partition. They tell Avery that the phone is set to overwrite the partition if it detects any intrusion. Daniel joins them and says the best thing to do is go old school and use a manual technique. Anyway so far in the second season since Brody and Raven have developed a relationship. Brody and Daniel haven’t been working together as much. I like it better this way because as I used to say in the first season Daniel would do 90% of the work while Brody watched. At times though I still want the team to work together Brody, Raven and Daniel.

Mundo uses the IMEI number of the phone to find it’s owner Lexie James. Which is Quinn’s second identity, which also leads the team to her husband. Raven has also gotten Quinn’s voice command to the digital assistant. They find out that the last thing Quinn wanted to do was email photo 226. They pull up the photo and from the border Raven figures out that it’s from the site “miafina”. Which is an anonymous confession site like the real world Secret app and website. Avery and Mundo analyse the photo and notice that the capitalized words in the caption spelled backwards is “RAPED”. Raven searches the miafina site for the picture but doesn’t find it posted there. They wonder if Quinn was raped and had plans to confront her rapist. The rapist would become their first suspect with a definite motive for her murder. Mundo and Avery bring in her husband for questioning. They tell him about her double life and he seems blindsided by the news. He also didn’t believe that she could have been sexually asaulted and didn’t tell him. He seemed distraught and left after they questioned him. Definitely my next issue, everyone knows that people closest to a victim are always a main suspect. It doesn’t matter how he responded to the news the team should have still looked into his life for any signs of a motive. Especially when later in the episode Avery asks “was she killed by someone in her hacking life or her personal life?”. They could have shown a couple scenes of the team digging through his records. They don’t find anything and by checking the location of his phone at the time of Quinn’s murder eliminate him as a suspect.

Meanwhile Daniel’s brute force bot cracks the passcode for gatekeeper. The data from the hidden partition is sent to CTOC. Brody and Raven are impressed by the hacking tools in the hidden partition. Along with the tools they also find a zero day exploit for Toggle Fly the show’s version of real world Twitter. They bring up Sheild Wallet an untraceable way hackers get paid by the people that hire them. Quinn’s account had over $500K leading them to believe she had been active again. They figure out that her last job was to hack the miafina website. She found a backdoor into the site that exposed the names and information of all the posters. Avery makes a reference to the Ashley Madison hack. But Quinn wasn’t out to blackmail the users or website. She was hired to delete the picture from the site and track down the person who posted it. The team then finds out that Quinn quit the job halfway through and threatened to expose the person who hired her. The person who hired her asked to meet her in person and the team is surprised that she agreed. Hackers never expose themselves by letting people in the outside world know their real identity. So why would Quinn agree to the meet up? The team figures out the picture was posted from a university before Quinn took it down. Meanwhile Raven asks Brody if he knows what ‘sot’ means because it was the last word Quinn’s phone learned. In the list of all the words the phone added to it’s dictionary ‘bae’ was in there among other pop culture terms. Brody then creates a script to search the phone’s hard drive for the origin of ‘sot’. I thought it was cool to see the use of a Code Editor and showing the script Brody was writing. During the episode we get little conversations here and there between Brody and Raven about their relationship. During this scene they talk about their days as a black hat and their most dangerous hack. It’s good to see mentions of their relationship and it gives us some backstory on the characters. We get a flashback of Brody’s most dangerous hack which I remember him recounting before in season one. Which adds some legitimacy to his story since he tells the same details both times. Raven doesn’t return the favor though saying she has too many to choose from. I loved that because it keeps the viewers interested about her past. Brody figures out that ‘sot’ is a reference to user sot515 which was the handle of the person who hired Quinn to hack the site.

The team looks through pictures posted online of the crew team’s celebration after wining the Sprint of the 5 mile race. They see a painting which was the background of the miafina posting. Mundo notices Grace in the pictures and points it out to Avery. Next Mundo and Avery head to the crew clubhouse with a warrant to search the crew team’s devices. But they are not allowed because the athletic director highlights that the devices are protected by a loophole in the law. The only way they can search the devices is by getting the owner’s permission or if the victim lays charges. The team starts searching for the victim, Shelby Lockhart but her phone is off and can’t be tracked. Brody and Raven figure out that Quinn used the spyware she put on Shelby’s phone to disable it. This stopped sot515 from tracking the phone to find Shelby. Mundo locates Shelby and he and Avery go to talk to her. Shelby tells Avery about what happened and how the university persuaded her not to file a report. Avery’s emotional responses were much better to me than what it used to be in season one. This has been one of my complaints on more than one episode and I’m happy to see it getting better. I mean Avery is a psychotherapist so emotions are something you expect of the character. Avery approaches Grace to see if she has any information about the sexual assualt. Grace tells Avery there was a guy recording the party. So they bring him in for questioning asking for the footage from the party. Carter Harris is a member of the crew team and is hesitant to the questioning at first. But then he tells them that three of the guys told him to delete the footage. He hands the team his phone to see if they can recover the deleted footage. Then Avery asks who asked him to delete the video. Carter seems conflicted but then he looks to Mundo and after a nod Carter tells them. Again this was a minor annoyance to me. I feel like in reality no matter how great a person is they would be more conflicted. Especially since he’s on the team and these guys are his teammates that he trains with every day. I feel like he would have resisted more and maybe Avery would have to bring in Shelby or tell him that one of the guys hired and killed a hacker. A guilt or scare tactic to have him help them out.

Daniel is able to retrieve the deleted video from the phone. He, Mundo and Avery head to the crew’s clubhouse and arrest the three guys. After searching the three phones none of the guys are sot515. Using the frequent locations on their phones. Daniel is able to lookup what location all three phones were in at the same time on the day the picture was posted to the miafina website. This leads them to the athletic director’s office. Where Avery reveals that he is sot515. She goes through the reason Quinn met him in person was to  record the meeting as proof. She didn’t know that the guy would go as far as murder. This was all great except for the fact that the FBI agents stood behind Avery until she was finished explaining. Then they moved in to cuff him. I think it would have been more realistic if they pinned him to his desk and while cuffing him Avery explained how they knew he was sot515. Anyhow finishing up the episode Brody and Raven invite Quinn’s husband back in to show him that Quinn had posted an image to the miafina website. It said she was leaving her Quinn identity and life behind because he gave her a reason to change. Then Brody handed him the Toggle Fly exploit as a small way of helping with the loss. The gesture might seem weird to some but I feel like as a hacker it’s the sort of thing they would do. Great episode, I enjoyed it a lot but there were a few minor annoyances, things that I thought could have been done better. Next up I will get into episode 10, I can’t wait!