Amazon chief’s phone may have been ‘hacked by Saudi prince’
According to sources, Amazon founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos had his mobile phone “hacked” in 2018 after he received a WhatsApp message that had apparently been sent from the personal account of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.
The encrypted message from the number used by Mohammed bin Salman is believed to have infected the phone of the world’s richest man with a malicious file, according to the results of a digital forensic analysis.
The analysis found it “highly probable” that the intrusion into the phone was triggered by an infected video file sent from the account of the Saudi heir to Bezos.
The two men had been having a seemingly friendly WhatsApp exchange when, on 1 May of that year, the unsolicited file was sent. Large amounts of data was exfiltrated from Bezos’s phone within hours, according to a person familiar with the matter.
There is no knowledge however of what was taken from the phone or how it was used.
If the analysis is proven to be true, the revelation that the future king of Saudi Arabia may have had a personal involvement in the targeting of the American founder of Amazon will send shockwaves from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.
It could also undermine efforts of the crown prince to lure more western investors to Saudi Arabia, doing which he wants to economically transform the kingdom.
It may also lead to renewed scrutiny about what the crown prince and his inner circle were doing in the months prior to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist who was killed in October 2018.
Saudi Arabia has previously denied it targeted Bezos’s phone, and has insisted the murder of Khashoggi was the result of a “rogue operation”.