KEY POINTS

  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos may have allowed attackers to access his iPhone X when he received a video file on his WhatsApp account
  • The WhatsApp video is imbedded with malware that allowed access to everything on the Amazon CEO's iPhone including photos and private communications
  • A forensic analysis discovered that the video was sent from the WhatsApp account that belongs to Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed bin Salman

In May 2018, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos received a video that may have allowed attackers to access his iPhone X. The video that was sent to his WhatsApp account allegedly came from the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. The discovery was made by a cybersecurity firm Bezos assigned to conduct a forensic analysis.

The alleged video file may have enabled hackers to access everything on the billionaire’s iPhone. It includes photos and private communications of the CEO, reports The New York Times. FTI Consulting, the cybersecurity company, which handled the forensic analysis of Jeff Bezos’ iPhone X, also discovered something very intriguing.

The video file sent on Bezos’ WhatsApp account was rooted with malware and was traced to the WhatsApp account of the Saudi crown prince. Prior to the incident, both had a meeting where they exchanged contact numbers. Although they communicated using the app, the CEO did not expect to receive a message from the crown prince that day, especially a video.

Amazon, whose founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is seen here, set out a series of principles on corporate responsibility Jeff Bezos's iPhone was hacked after receiving a message via WhatsApp. (Pictured: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos set out a series of principles on corporate responsibility, including calling for regulation of facial recogition technology) Photo: AFP / Eric BARADAT

The video file that Bezos received is 4.4-megabytes equipped with a separate bit of code that possibly implanted the malware on the iPhone X. It is not known if the Amazon CEO opened the file. However, it is worth mentioning that most malware can run on a device even without the need for user interaction.

Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed bin Salman was alleged to be the brain responsible for the attack on the Amazon CEO. The prince allegedly shared information with the American Media, Inc, the parent company of Enquirer, to put pressure on the Washington Post’s investigation. The publication is currently looking into the potential involvement of Saudi Arabia in the murder of the journalist named Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

The forensic analysis is now included in the UN’s investigation about malware that could have been used to launch the attack. The United Nations thinks the malware may have originated in the backyard of Saudi Arabia. While officials of the Middle East country deny their participation in the issue, the UN thinks otherwise.