The escalation in tensions between the FBI and Apple is quite a serious affair that has potential long-term ramifications for the safety of online security as we know it.

The FBI asked Apple to unlock the iPhone of Syed Rizwan Farook who killed 14 people in a shooting rampage in December 2015. Apple refused, saying the protection of personal data was "incredibly important".

However the San Bernardino District Attorney told a federal judge on Thursday (3 March) that Apple must assist the authorities in unlocking the iPhone used by Farook.

The case has left global technology firms scrambling to position themselves as bastions of privacy by lining up to support Apple CEO Tim Cook in his time of need. Meanwhile, law enforcement have maintained that it isn't demanding a 'backdoor' into iPhone devices and only wants to investigate a crime (or 12, depending on what you read).

As a result, the rhetoric from both sides of the argument has now reached fever pitch as fearmongering and exaggeration has at times quickly taken the place of reasoned debate.

When the San Bernardino district attorney told a federal judge the iPhone involved should be unlocked because it may unleash a "dormant cyber pathogen" the internet reacted in the only way it could – with a mix of confusion, bewilderment and, in many cases, outright mockery.

While some responses were a little NSFW to be included in this list, IBTimes UK has collected the best reactions to the #CyberPathogen gripping the nation – hold on to your cyber-expectations.

Some quick cyber-thinkers decided the best way to stop the spread of the pathogen by shutting everything down at the source.

Others decided to attempt to use illustrations to demonstrate the sheer terror such a pathogen may unleash.

Other cyber-specialists took the traditional route and went for all-out mockery.

And this poor soul is just hoping for the best.

If anyone finds out what a cyber pathogen is please tell – in this order – the CDC, IBTimesUK and then the rest of the security industry.