Even the Jeff Bezos’ of the world are not immune to being hacked.
In 2018, Jeff Bezos received a WhatsApp message from an account belonging to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. The message, a video of Saudi and Swedish flags with Arabic text, was not expected despite having previously communicated through the app. The file was more than it appeared, with a separate bit of code hidden that most likely implanted malware, giving attackers access to the entire phone including photos and private communication. Bezos commissioned and paid for a forensic analysis to discover who hacked the iPhone. The analysis has raised concerns about Prince Mohammed, accusing the prince of using the malware to spy on and intimidate Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. The theory goes deeper since at the time of the hack, Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi writer, was employed at The Post, which has published coverage critical of the Saudi government. Khashoggi was also killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in late 2018.
There are still unknowns remaining about the infiltration of Bezos’ phone, including the type of malware used, and whether or not Bezos opened the file sent to him. Whether the theory about Prince Mohammed is true or not, we know one thing for sure: private hackers for hire exist, and popular messaging platforms have vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit, no matter who you are. To learn more about this specific case, and the importance of cybersecurity, visit here.