Facebook’s WhatsApp blamed for Jeff Bezos’ iPhone hack

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ iPhone may have been hacked after he received a message via Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging platform, from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, according to a November 2019 report by FTI Consulting Inc.

Amy Thomson for Bloomberg News:

WhatsApp Bezos hack on an Apple iPhone X
Apple’s iPhone X
The message included a 4.22 MB video. Within hours of receiving it, “a massive and unauthorized exfiltration of data from Bezos’s phone began,” according to the report. The Saudi Embassy has denied involvement in the hack, calling the allegations “absurd.”

It’s not the first time WhatsApp’s been drawn into a hacking controversy. WhatsApp in November sued Israeli spyware maker NSO Group, accusing it of infecting phones of some users through the messaging app. The lawsuit said that NSO Group used a vulnerability in WhatsApp, since patched, to secretly deliver its surveillance software to users. NSO denied the claims in the lawsuit and said it would “vigorously fight them.”

MacDailyNews Take: The New York Times‘ Sheera Frenkel today offers more information on the hack of Bezos’ iPhone X:

The video, a file of more than 4.4 megabytes, was more than it appeared, according to a forensic analysis that Mr. Bezos commissioned and paid for to discover who had hacked his iPhone X. Hidden in that file was a separate bit of code that most likely implanted malware that gave attackers access to Mr. Bezos’ entire phone, including his photos and private communications.

Mr. Bezos has been on a singular quest to find out who penetrated the device since early 2019, when he said The National Enquirer’s parent company had threatened to release private photographs and texts, and the forensic study was part of that effort. Those pictures and messages showed Mr. Bezos, who was married at the time, with another woman, Lauren Sanchez. The analysis did not connect the hack to The Enquirer.

Over the years that he has run Amazon, Mr. Bezos has largely kept private. That changed when The National Enquirer published photos and messages last year between him and Ms. Sanchez, a TV anchor. Mr. Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, later got a divorce.

In July 2019, the Bezos’s made their divorce official. With a $38 billion settlement, MacKenzie Bezos became the third richest woman in the world.

8 Comments

  1. Apple’s so-called commitment to security and privacy has had a couple of weeks of terrible press. Maybe Apple’s commitment to its customers’ privacy is symbolism over substance. With no encryption for iCloud and now an iPhone 11 being hacked by App Store approved app, maybe Tim Cook’s statements about privacy as a right is only bloviating for public approval. Or in the words of Shakespeare, “Much to do about nothing.”

      1. if you look through the optics of facebook this looks bad for Apple, but hey, from the outside i see a festering mess of compromise to your privacy if you use any facebook products

    1. yeah, and clicking on a link in your browser (any) is the fault of an operating system? or opening an attachment in ANY mail program is the fault of the mail program? (even if it is from that african prince that wants to send you a million dollars?)

      Wait, this is FACEBOOK! get a clue and can all facebook crap, i never went there and never will

  2. So, facebook admits to putting a back door into WhatsApp for the purpose of monitoring content to maintain community standards and soon afterward it comes out that someone is using WhatsApp as a vector. Color me !surprised…

  3. Wait a minute…
    Isn’t the WhatsApp application vetted by the Apple App store, who’s design is to keep us safe?
    When that fails Apple bears no responsibility?

    Can’t have it both ways.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.