The smartphone of the richest person in the world was reportedly hacked via a chat message. It was none other than the Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos whose phone was breached after receiving a WhatsApp message back in 2018.
The Guardian reports that the malicious message was sent from the personal account of the crown price of Saudi Arabia — Mohammed Bin Salman. The Financial Times also states that it has seen a digital forensics report of the said hack.
The prince apparently sent Bezos a WhatsApp message containing a malicious file that managed to infiltrate his phone.
The two men were reportedly having a friendly chat on May 1, 2018 when the malware infected file was sent to Bezos. Weeks before that, the duo had reportedly exchanged numbers during the prince’s trip to Los Angeles.
The forensic analysis further revealed that, in high probability, the rogue file sent over WhatsApp was a video.
What was the ultimate result of the hack?
Well, The Guardian reports that large swaths of data was stolen from the Amazon chief’s phone. However, the publication has no idea of what that data was and how it was used.
Meanwhile, there are several theories currently doing the rounds.
Last year, the National Enquirer published intimate details about Bezos’ extramarital affair. The report included a string of private text messages sent and received by Bezos.
At the time Bezos’ associates reportedly suspected that Saudi Arabia had access to his phone. The country was at loggerheads with Bezos following the murder of veteran Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who used to write articles critical of prince Mohammed for Bezos-owned Washington Post.
The fresh evidence is the first time the prince has been directly linked to a WhatsApp account that was apparently used to hack Bezos. However, it can’t be said with certainty that the royal was behind the leak of Bezos’ private texts.
These allegations will probably send shockwaves across Silicon Valley and raise some uncomfortable questions for Saudi Arabia.
For us, it’s a solemn reminder that not even the richest person in the world can save himself from being targeted by hackers. It also raises huge concerns about WhatsApp’s security practices, or the lack thereof.