The mobile phone of Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos was hacked after receiving a WhatsApp message from the account of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, it has been claimed.
According to the Guardian, a malicious video file sent to Bezos — the world’s richest person — from the personal number said to be used by Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was used to infiltrate his device.
The report said a digital forensic investigation found it was highly likely the video file was the source of the hack, which is said to have captured large amounts of data from Bezos’s phone.
The incident is alleged to have taken place in May 2018, five months before the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi royal family and a journalist with the Washington Post, which is also owned by Bezos.
According to the report, the Amazon chief and the crown prince had been having a WhatsApp exchange on 1 May 2018 when the malicious file was sent.
In response, Saudi Arabia’s US embassy called the claims “absurd” and asked for an investigation. “Recent media reports that suggest the Kingdom is behind a hacking of Jeff Bezos’s phone are absurd. We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out,” the embassy said on Twitter.
Amazon has not commented on the claims.
Private text messages
The report said digital forensic analysis of Bezos’s phone first began early last year following the publication of revelations about his private life in US tabloid the National Enquirer, which included private text messages.
The billionaire had asked his security team to uncover how the messages had been accessed.
In March 2019, one of the investigators claimed they had found evidence that Saudi Arabia had been involved in hacking the Amazon boss and gaining access to his data.
Gavin de Becker, who had been hired by Bezos, wrote on the Daily Beast website that “our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’s phone, and gained private information”.