Did Saudi Arabia hack the phone of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos?

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Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos reportedly had his mobile phone hacked after receiving an infected WhatsApp message sent from the personal account of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

Following digital forensic analysis, it is believed that the encrypted message sent from Mohammed bin Salman's phone number included a malicious file that was able to infiltrate Bezos' smartphone. The analysis found it “highly probable” that the hack was triggered by an infected video file sent from the crown prince to Bezos.

According to anonymous sources who spoke with The Guardian, the two were chatting over WhatsApp when the unsolicited file was sent in May of 2018.

Within hours, large amounts of data were exfiltrated from Bezos' smartphone according to a person familiar with the matter but it is still unclear as to what data was taken from the device or how it was used.

Potential backlash

The revelation that the future king of Saudi Arabia may have been personally involved in targeting the founder of Amazon could result in backlash from both Wall Street and Silicon Valley. If true, it could also undermine Mohammed bin Salman's efforts to bring more western investors to Saudi Arabia as part of his plan to economically transform the kingdom.

The examination of Bezos' phone by digital forensic experts began after the National Enquirer published intimate details about his private life last January. The CEO's security team then tried to uncover how his private texts were obtained by the publication.

American Media Inc (AMI), which owns the National Enquirer, says that it received the information regarding Bezos' affair with Lauren Sanchez from her estranged brother. However, the investigation by Bezos' own team found with “high confidence” that the Saudis had managed to “access” his phone and gain private information about him.

The evidence regarding the hack is also so compelling that investigators could be considering formally approaching Saudi Arabia to ask for an explanation.

Via The Guardian

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.