CSI: Cyber Season 1 Episode 9 Review: “L0M1S”

CSI: Cyber

On the latest episode of CSI: Cyber, the team goes up against a hacker that uses the online handle of “L0M1S”, which means “low missile” in leet speak, and whom Agent Krumitz has been after for the last three years. How does one catch a cyber criminal who doesn’t seek to benefit for their own crimes?

The madness began when planes from Monument Airlines all lost their WiFi connection at the same time while making domestic flights, which could have turned into a possible terrorist attack as indicated by the threat assessment color chart at the Department of Homeland Security. Assistant Deputy Director Sifter then made the un-cleared call to Homeland Security to ground all the Monument Airline planes, and his decision did not sit well with many of his superiors after the fact, as the call cost Monument Airlines millions of dollars. The person who was least happy with Sifter: his new boss, Deputy Director Colin Vickner (guest star Jason George).

The source of the WiFi malfunction seemed to originate from Miami International Airport so that was where the team was heading. However, Monument Airline planes were being grounded in a number of other cities around the country, like Memphis, Denver, Houston and Chicago, with everyone who was a possible suspect detained until the team figured out what was going on. Eventually, the person that caused the WiFi network on the planes to go down was found, 16-year-old Willa Hart (guest star Rachael Kathryn Bell), whose phone was the one that blocked all the other passengers’ devices from accessing the plane’s WiFi network.

After Willa had been questioned, all of the other passengers on Willa’s flight were in a state of panic, as they became aware that their credit cards were frozen and/or being used to purchase things online. This then led Agent Ryan to come to the conclusion that this case was a credit card heist in which the hacker robbed the passengers of their sensitive information via a process called “juice jacking,” in which people’s devices were being hacked into while they used charging stations at the airport. In other words, anyone who wanted to charge their devices at a specific charging station at the airport ended up having their private information stolen.

Agent Krumitz then determined that this L0M1S must be the one behind the WiFi hack and that malicious software had been loaded onto the nine suspects’ phones without their knowledge, which meant that they were victims, not suspects. Agent Krumitz then headed to Miami International Airport via a Coast Guard helicopter (from the connection that Assistant Deputy Director Sifter had with them) and found the line of code that had affected the phones of everyone who was on a Monument Airline flight. Later, he had everyone unplug their devices from the charging bar and form a line, where Nelson proceeded to get rid of the malicious software on their phones. Agent Krumitz also discovered the device which caused the credit card hack and disabled it before it could do any more damage.

Unfortunately, the case was not closed yet, as Agent Ryan found a dead woman in the waiting area. A look at the video footage at the airport security room showed three people that were likely the culprits of both the charging bar hack and the woman’s murder, even though the footage was too grainy to identify any of them. The hackers then realized that the FBI was onto them and subsequently opted to use the affected passengers’ information against them, blackmailing various people, including a senator, with exposing sensitive information if they didn’t pay a hefty ransom fee via text messaging, and locking down their phones in the process so that they couldn’t be accessed.

Agent Ryan then had the idea to look at all the X-Ray images from the airport security check-in area, where Agent Krumitz spotted several bags with a wizard hat hacker insignia that he recognized. One of the suspects was identified when one of the stolen credit cards were used to purchase a server blade, which Agent Mundo dismissed as the thieves being sloppy. A SWAT team, along with Agent Mundo, was then sent to the address of the suspect who made the server blade purchase, and sure enough, the three responsible parties were there, though they were able to destroy most of the evidence of their crimes on the fly as they were being busted.

Later on in the episode, it was revealed that the lone female member of the group had blood under her fingernails that matched the DNA of the dead woman, whose name was Rachel Carrington. The girl admitted that the death of Rachel Carrington was an accident, and that she slipped and fell when the girl grabbed her wrists to prevent her from leaving, knocking herself unconscious when she crashed into the bathroom stall door. The girl and the other hackers then put Rachel’s body in a seat in the waiting area and left her, thinking it was a case of a mild concussion and that someone would come to her aid when she woke up. However, Rachel never did awaken, as she bled to death from her head wound.

What’s more, the infamous L0M1S was not among the three suspects; he/she never showed up to get his/her cut of the credit card heist, and none of the suspects could identify L0M1S, given that they had never seen him/her in person. Agent Krumitz then did his best to figure out who L0M1S was, using what evidence and information that they had on the case so far. However, it was to no avail, as whenever he seemed to be getting somewhere, a message of “gotcha!” from a blue animated character that taunted him endlessly. Agent Mundo then urged Agent Krumitz to take a break and start fresh when his head was much clearer, telling the angry and dismayed agent a similar experience that he had in the war in Kandahar, as he and his team were forced to wait out a potential suspect for an extended period of time because Agent Mundo had been obsessed with finding the suspect.

It was discovered toward the end of the episode that some of the plane passengers had paid the ransom money in order to keep their secrets hidden, but the information was leaked anyway. Senator Carla Finnis was outed for living a double life, thus ruining her political career and exposing her secret to her family. Another woman, Chelsea (guest star Sarah Butler), had her video leaked onto a revenge porn site, ruining her engagement. Agent Krumitz then emerged, when the team was at their wits’ end, claiming that he knew who L0M1S was,and it turned out to be 16-year-old Willa Hart. Agent Ryan then got a warrant for Willa’s tablet and brought the young girl in for questioning, and sure enough, Willa confessed to being the cyber criminal who shut down the plane’s WiFi network. Her reason? She was bored and she could. How I wanted to wipe that smirk off her face as she confessed to her crime.

In the end, Willa Hart walked, due to her being underage, much to Agent Krumitz’s chagrin, which he lamented to Agent Ryan afterwards when he received a postcard from Willa under her hacker handle L0M1S. However, Agent Ryan wasn’t too sympathetic toward Agent Krumitz because she caught something the rest of the team did not: the only way that Agent Krumitz could have accomplished his goal of finding L0M1S’ true identity was that he had to have paid off the ransom money himself, since it was later shown that Senator Carla Finnis did not do so. After sending the payment, using some malicious software of his own, Agent Krumitz was able to hack into Willa’s computer and take a screenshot of her when Willa had accessed the computer.

Doing this, was, of course, very much against the law, as Agent Ryan pointed out to Agent Krumitz; if the suspect hadn’t been underage as Willia had been, the case would never hold up in court because of what Agent Krumitz had done. In his determination to catch the culprit, Agent Krumitz had become a criminal himself and Agent Ryan was none too thrilled, though she decided to let it slide. I also agree with what Agent Ryan said to Agent Krumitz as she turned to leave his lab, that victory does not taste as sweet when one doesn’t earn it honestly. I hope that Agent Krumitz will not let history repeat itself, because if he does, then he might go to prison and, in turn, lose his job at the FBI’s Cyber Division.

This was another solid episode of CSI: Cyber, though the episodes before this one was pretty emotionally charged, and dealt with much more higher stakes. As usual, the main plotline was enough to make one scared to use their technology or smart devices, given what occurred in this week’s case. I swear, by the time this show is done, I’m going to be so paranoid I’ll probably end up not using all of my technological devices 24/7. (Or not because how else will I be able to write all these reviews?)

[Photo credit:  Darren Michaels/CBS]

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