Thursday, June 24, 2021

Click here to
sign up for our newsletter!

The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Sep 30, 2020

Holmdel High School Student Helps Apple Fix Security Issue

By Shanna O'Mara

When users experience an error on their smartphone or tablet, they likely research the issue, hoping to find help on the company’s website. On an iPhone, for example, a glitch may disrupt service, prompting someone to visit Apple’s site in search of a solution. At the bottom of Apple’s support page is a list of those who contributed to improving products and facilitating their use, and among the names of coding experts and tech professionals is a line which stands out: “We would like to acknowledge Giyas Umarov of Holmdel High School for their assistance.”

Umarov appears as the only name listed with a high school, as many more are identified by their networking lab or Google project. He is a sophomore at Holmdel High School and simply said he “has an interest” in technology. While using an Apple product one day, he noticed an issue with the App Store security system.

“Anyone who had physical access to an iPhone/iPad/iPod could have used a QR code to cause any amount of pop-ups that ask whether or not to install some software or app of the person’s choice to come up upon unlocking the device,” Umarov said. “This could have been used to cause a denial of service, which means the user that unlocks the device wouldn’t be able to fully use it until the pop-up or pop-ups go away. It could’ve also been used to distribute possibly harmful software or messages, since the person that does it can control what software and its title is to be used (by the QR code), though the person that unlocks it would have to tap ‘install’ on the pop-up in order for the software to be installed.”

Users could be deceived by a legitimate-looking pop-up, prompting them to install what they think is an update from Apple. Alternatively, the message could multiply, forcing the person to click “install” just to rid their screen of the chaos. Umarov realized this danger and contacted Apple to prevent future issues.

“I just told [them] that they could make it so that a software install pop-up cannot be shown more than once or by only allowing the scanning of QR codes when the device is unlocked,” he said.

Months passed before Umarov heard back from a representative about his report. The issue was under investigation and ultimately resolved. To thank the 15-year-old for his contribution, Apple posted his name and school to its website.

Umarov is a member of the Holmdel High School Technology Student Association. In his free time, he said he enjoys reading about the C programming language which can be used to develop software. He also enjoys watching YouTube videos, playing tennis and practicing Taekwondo. He is a volunteer at the Monmouth Medical Center and a member of the Lincroft Music Band.

Holmdel High School Principal Brian Schillaci met with Umarov after his public recognition to speak with the student and personally congratulate him.

“It was great having the opportunity to connect with Giyas,” Schillaci said. “He is a very humble young man. No surprise he wasn’t looking for a lot of fanfare, but we appreciate and commend him on this special accomplishment!”