Allegations that the ruler of Saudi Arabia played a role in hacking Jeff Bezos’ phone made headlines around the world today. A forensic report indicates this was supposedly an iPhone X, and a WhatsApp account was used.
Bezos is more than the CEO of Amazon — he’s also the owner of The Washington Post, which has been critical of Mohammed bin Salman, the crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
A forensic analysis done on Bezos’ iPhone X said with “medium to high confidence” that the device was hacked in May 2018 by an MP4 file sent from a WhatsApp account used personally by the Crown Prince. While the file was encrypted and therefore couldn’t be fully examined, investigators note that within hours the phone began transmitting large amounts of data, which went on for months.
The report states it’s likely the attack was done with NSO Group’s Pegasus, spyware that Saudi Arabia used in other hacks. Other governments supposedly use this tool as well, including the US and UK.
Reaction from the UN
The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reacted strongly. “The alleged hacking of Mr. Bezos’s phone, and those of others, demands immediate investigation by US and other relevant authorities, including investigation of the continuous, multi-year, direct and personal involvement of the Crown Prince in efforts to target perceived opponents,” stated Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions and extrajudicial killings, and David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression.