Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man and the owner of Amazon, had his iPhone hacked after he received a suspicious message over WhatsApp from the personal account of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman. Both of them were having a friendly chat when the latter sent Bezos the malicious file.
The results of a digital forensic analysis claim that the encrypted message from Mohammed Bin Salman contained a malicious video file. The incident took place on May 1, 2018. Jeff Bezos had met the crown prince of Saudi Arabia a few weeks before during the latter’s trip to Los Angeles where they exchanged phone numbers.
The malicious video file contained an encrypted downloader which began transmitting large amount of data from Bezos’ iPhone after that.
The hack led to a huge amount of data being stolen from Bezos’ iPhone, though what kind of data leaked is unclear. There are, however, theories that this data leak is what provided the National Enquirer with details about the extramarital affair of Bezos, including access to intimate text conversations, a few months after the suspicious message was sent.
The malware sent by Mohammed Bin Salman was able to install itself on Bezos’ iPhone possibly due to a WhatsApp exploit.
Below is an excerpt from the forensic report:
“The amount of data being transmitted out of Bezos’ phone changed dramatically after receiving the WhatsApp video file and never returned to baseline. Following execution of the encrypted downloader sent from MBS’ account, egress on the device immediately jumped by approximately 29,000 percent. Forensic artifacts show that in the six (6) months prior to receiving the WhatsApp video, Bezos’ phone had an average of 430KB of egress per day, fairly typical of an iPhone. Within hours of the WhatsApp video, egress jumped to 126MB. The phone maintained an unusually high average of 101MB of egress data per day for months thereafter, including many massive and highly atypical spikes of egress data.”
The forensic report was unable to get more information about the malware since Bezos could not remember the password of his iTunes backup.
Why Was Bezos iPhone Hacked?
So, why did the crown prince of Saudi Arabia hack the phone of the world’s richest man? The latter also owns Washington Post which frequently published articles that criticized Mohammed Bin Salman. In fact, the crown prince is said to be behind the murder of veteran The Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi who wrote articles criticizing the prince. He was assassinated at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey by agents of the Saudi governments on October 2, 2018.
I guess even if you are the world’s richest man and use an iPhone, it does not guarantee that you will not be hacked.[Via Guardian, Vice]