- Jeff Bezos’s phone was hacked by Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman in 2018
- By sending a malicious video, a malware was installed on Jeff’s phone
- The video was sent through WhatsApp from Salman’s number
- Private data was exfiltrated as part of the attack
- The data leak is being tied to Jeff’s divorce and the murder of a Saudi journalist
- Reports suggest that Saudi Arabian government is behind the cyberattack
The crown prince of Saudi Arabia had reportedly hacked the phone of Amazon.com Inc’s founder, Jeff Bezos in 2018.
According to recent disclosures, Bezos’s received a malicious video file from his contact, Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi prince, on his WhatsApp, which installed a virus on his phone and extracted confidential data within a few hours.
After the surfacing of this news, questionable eyebrows are being raised on Saudi Arabia’s role in the public leaking of Jeff Bezos’s personal information (related to his extra-marital affair) and the assassination of Saudi Arabian dissident journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, who worked for the Washington Post (also owned by Jeff Bezos).
How did Bezos’s phone get hacked?
Cyberattacks do not spare anyone, be it your next door Youtuber or the world’s richest man himself.
In early 2018, Jeff and Salman had exchanged numbers and engaged in friendly WhatsApp conversation.
A few weeks later, Jeff received a malicious MP4 video file from the prince that was reportedly exploiting a zero-day vulnerability in WhatsApp.
A few hours later, data from Bezos’s iPhone was exfiltrated to the attackers. Digital forensics hint towards the fact that a malware was installed through the manipulated video file which led to the ultimate hack.
Some sources also suggest that Pegasus virus (the NSO’s child) was also involved in the attack.
It is interesting to note that just 8-9 months after the hack, an American tabloid disclosed private details, including text messages, that exposed Jeff’s extra-marital affair and led to the end of his 25 year old marriage.
As it is being said, those details were a result of nothing but his phone hack incident.
Also, five months post the hack, a journalist of Washington Post, who wrote critical pieces for the Saudi government, including the crown prince, Salman was murdered.
Although investigations suggest that Salman and his ‘inner circle’ were, indeed, behind the assassination, the fact how Bezos’s phone hack was a part of the story, has yet to form a clear picture.
Who was behind the attack? And what was the impact?
Apart from what we have already mentioned above (exposing Bezos’s personal life and the links to the murder of Jamal), there has been no reported leak of confidential data related to Bezos’s other ventures like Amazon and Blue Origin.
Of course, we can’t deny the fact that around 4 GB of extremely private data was making its way out of Jeff Bezos’s phone to the attackers, over the course of several months.
This means that the possibility of more harmful leaks cannot be ruled out yet.
Now, it is not yet confirmed whether the prince himself was behind the attack or was there someone else piggybacking on him to attack Bezos.
However, the dots that are begging to be connected cannot be ignored.
The alleged motive behind the hacking of Bezos’s phone by the Saudi Arabian prince could be the severed relationship between the two parties concerning the coverage of Washington Post, the newspaper that Bezos purchased in 2013.
Salman, who is not a fan of critics, and has been known to crack down upon dissidents, could have done this to send a message to or to take revenge from Bezos.
In a world that is enveloped in data and is run on digital connections, cyberattacks are the new weapons and cyberwarfare is the new way of war.
What lesson did you learn from this incident? Have you received any suspicious file through WhatsApp lately?
What do you think of this news? Tell us your thoughts below in the comments section.
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