Saudi crown prince allegedly sent an infected video to Jeff Bezos to break into billionaire’s phone
It seems that issues between the Saudi government and Jeff Bezos, which started back in Spring 2018, begin to have some meaning. The newest reports and researches have suggested that the government hacked the phone of a famous entrepreneur via the WhatsApp messaging platform, by using the Pegasus software from the NSO Group. iPhone X belonging to Bezos got hacked after he received a video file via WhatsApp in May 2018 straight from Mohammed bin Salman.
Digital forensic analysis reports claimed that a massive amount of data was stolen from the device within a few hours from the moment when a video file was received:
The forensic analysis found that within hours of receipt of the MP4 video file from the Crown Prince’s account, massive and (for Bezos’ phone) unprecedented exfiltration of data from the phone began, increasing data egress suddenly by 29,156 per cent to 126 MB. Data spiking then continued undetected over some months and at rates as much as 106,032,045 per cent (4.6 GB) higher than the pre-video data egress baseline for Mr. Bezos’ phone of 430KB
It hasn’t been disclosed what particular data got stolen from the phone, but the timeline of events is raising even more questions and allegations. News outlets revealed intimate photos and messages of Bezos a few months after the said hacking. The exposure then forced the billionaire to address his divorce from his wife publicly due to the extramarital affair.
The hack began with a friendly phone number exchange
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had a three-week tour in the US, and, during the time, he invited Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to a small dinner. Later, the same year of 2018, both of them met at another dinner in Los Angeles, during which they exchanged phone numbers and started a conversation during the WhatsApp.
The before-mentioned message with the encrypted video was received on the first of May. It is not known if Bezos interacted with the message in any way, but the data transmitted on his phone increased significantly. Later that year, the Saudi prince sent a meme to Bezos via the same WhatsApp platform, and, according to forensic investigators, this was the moment when the crown prince possibly accessed personal messages on the phone.
At the beginning of 2019, Bezos had to announce his divorce from his wife of 25 years. On the same day, tabloids released his private messages and personal images. These articles revealed that Jeff Bezos was dating Lauren Sanchez for months during his marriage.
All the relations have been denied
Jeff Bezos himself has released a blog post accusing national Enquirer’s publisher AMI of blackmailing him and stating about possible ties between breaking into his personal life and the Saudi government. In the same month of February, Bezos received another message on WhatsApp from Prince Mohammed, which ensured Amazon CEO that there is nothing against him from Saudi Arabia or the crown prince himself.
However, an in-depth analysis of Bezos’s phone has shown that the prince hacked billionaire’s phone using video files infected with malware. Crown Prince Mohamed hasn’t adequately addressed the allegations yet.
The software used to hack the phone of Jeff Bezos was reportedly the same as the one previously used to target journalists, attorneys, and other public politicians, government members. The software, or Pegasus-3 malware, is sold by the Israeli company known as NSO Group. However, the NSO Group keeps denying that it was their software involved.
Unfortunately, such software which includes the malicious code that can be used to compromise mobile devices has also been made by other companies as well. Malicious actors have been targeting not only important parties but ordinary people as well. If you happen to receive a suspicious call or text, make sure you ignore it.