Jeff Bezos phone hack started from a WhatsApp message sent in May 2018 from the account of Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The billionaire who shifted the shopping markets online, Jeff Bezos became a target to an encrypted message that was delivered from the personal account of Saudi Arabia’s cryptic Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
On January 21, The Guardian revealed Bezos received a WhatsApp message containing a malicious file in 2018 that “hacked” his phone. The report based on a digital forensic analysis stated that it’s “highly probable” that the world’s richest man’s phone was intruded through a malign video file sent from the account MbS.
The owner of The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos was apparently in friendly talking terms with the Saudi Crown Prince on WhatsApp, when on 1 May 2018, he received an unsolicited file, through which extensive data from Bezos’ phone was fetched within hours.
However, the claims were damned by Saudi Arabia, warding off the allegations as “absurd”. On Twitter, the Saudi embassy in USA wrote, “We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out.”
Following the report, the United Nations appointed David Kaye and Agnes Callamard as special rapporteur to investigate into the report and confirm the allegations.
On Wednesday, Callamard claimed that the Jeff Bezos phone hack was a part of the wider campaign initiated by Saudi Arabia to target individuals close to The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
On 8 November 2018, Saudi’s future king Mohammed bin Salman sent a message to the Amazon chief, which contained a single photograph similar to the woman Bezos had a secret affair with, former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez.
The picture was reportedly attached with a scornful message, “Arguing with a woman is like reading the Software Licence Agreement. In the end you have to ignore everything and click I agree.”
The UN rapporteur, Agnes Callamard said that the message was an attempt by Crown Prince MbS to “intimidate” Bezos and to make him feel vulnerable.
According to the UN, Saudi Arabia’s plan to target Jeff Bezos began on 21 March 2018, when the billionaire was invited to the Kingdom for a dinner party. On April 4, the two men exchanged their phone numbers, and a month later in May, based on the report by The Guardian, the first attempt in Bezos phone hack was launched.
The forensic analysis was undertaken by FTI Consulting, an advisory firm commissioned by the Amazon CEO’s own security to examine his phone.
Jeff Bezos’ phone hack came to light a year ago, when his covert messages were exposed by the National Enquirer in January 2019. The Amazon owner directed his security consultant Gavin de Becker to investigate the issue.
In February 2019, Bezos’ in his personal Medium blog revealed that the owner of American Media Inc. tabloid, David Miller tried to extort him and threatened him to “stop our investigation” since they possessed several of his personal messages and photos.
Jeff Bezos, being the owner of The Washington Post, became the target as the newspaper allowed Khashoggi to be a columnist. Besides, he was later exposed in January because The Post continued the fierce coverage against Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Khashoggi’s assassination in October 2018.
Carrying a big no-no card to dissidents, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman is known for his conservative views and human rights abuses. As Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post became a platform to one of Saudi’s loudest dissident’s, which explains why the Amazon billionaire became a name in MbS’ hit list.