Jeff Bezos’s Phone Was Hacked By Saudi Crown Prince: Report

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The crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Bin Salman had got mobile phone of the Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos hacked in 2018, the UK newspaper The Guardian has claimed.

Though the Guardian said it has "no knowledge of what was taken from the phone or how it was used" but it claimed that "large amounts of data were exfiltrated from Bezos' phone within hours."

The investigation into the matter was carried out and reviewed by Agnès Callamard, the UN special rapporteur who investigates extrajudicial killings. It is understood that the findings are credible enough to be taken to the Saudi government for a formal explanation.

Bezos’ phone got hacked, the newspaper said, after he received a WhatsApp message “apparently been sent from the personal account of the crown prince”. The Guardian said that the “encrypted message from the number is believed to have included a malicious file that infiltrated the phone of the world’s richest man, according to the results of a digital forensic analysis.”

The analysis found it "highly probable" that the intrusion into the phone was triggered by an infected video file sent from the account of the Saudi heir to Bezos, the newspaper said.

"The two men had been having a seemingly friendly WhatsApp exchange when, on 1 May of that year, the unsolicited file was sent," Guardian said quoting anonymous sources.

A person familiar with the matter said that large amounts of data was exfiltrated from Bezos’s phone.

“The use of popular Social apps to infect people with malware is a trend we foresaw and  alerted about for more than a year. As we proved ourselves in our WhatsApp research of last December and our research on the app from August 2018 - malicious links could have been sent through some vulnerabilities which existed on the platform (until they were fixed following our cooperation with Facebook) and manipulation of content was optional to a certain extent.  We  believe that this mean of operation is extremely likely to take place with targeted attacks against individuals which use these apps. The prices bad actors are willing to pay for vulnerabilities  In such popular platforms (which hold data of billions of people worldwide) are in the rise, and the exploits of these bugs can serve as a very effective cyber weapon. Comprehensive cyber security requires designated solutions for all current and upcoming digital platforms, and the more common and widespread they become- the more sophisticated and challenging this task is”.
Oded Vanunu, Head of Products Vulnerabilities at Check Point

This revelation may also lead to more scrutiny of the Saudi prince considering a Washington Post journalist, Kamal Khashoggi, was murdered 5 months after the alleged “hack”.

The Saudi Arabia government has earlier denied its role in the hacking of Bezos’s phone and also said that the murder of Khashoggi was the result of a “rouge operation”.

— with inputs from IANS

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