Saudi Prince hacks Bezos's phone

Saudi Prince hacks Bezos's phone


Mr. Jeff Bezos's mobile phone was hacked following an exchange between the Inc. chief executive officer and the Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman on encrypted messaging service WhatsApp, according to two persons familiar with an analysis of the breach.

While a message from the Prince to Mr. Bezos in mid-2018 that preceded the hack appeared benign, investigators found digital evidence suggesting it contained code that ultimately led to the breach of the billionaire's phone, said one of them, who asked not to be identified. A forensic analysis showed with moderately high confidence that a WhatsApp account used by Prince bin Salman was involved, another person said.

A British newspaper said that an analysis had found that the theft of data from Mr. Bezos's phone in 2018 started with an infected video file sent from the Prince's personal account. The Financial Times, which confirmed elements of the account of the hack, said the analysis was conducted by global business advisory firm. A representative of the firm declined to comment, saying: 'We do not comment on, confirm or deny client engagements or potential engagements.

The revelation about a security breach that affected the world's richest man comes about a year after the surprise announcement that Mr. Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, would divorce after 25 years of marriage. The National Enquirer subsequently disclosed an extramarital affair between Mr. Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, a former television anchor, in a series of reports that relied, in part, on intimate text messages sent by Mr. Bezos.

Mr. Bezos subsequently published an extraordinary blog post accusing the tabloid of threatening to publish more embarrassing text messages and photos unless he publicly affirmed that there was no political motivation or outside force behind the tabloid's coverage.

A security consultant for Mr. Bezos, later said he believed the Saudi Arabian government had accessed his phone before the Enquirer exposed the affair. He didn't provide any direct evidence to back up his claims, which he said came from 'our investigators and several experts.'

They cited the Enquirer's business relationship with the Saudis, as well as tough coverage of the murder of a critic of the Saudi regime by the Bezos-owned Washington Post, as reasons why Prince bin Salman might seek to harm the Amazon founder. The newspaper reported last year that the Central Intelligence Agency linked the Crown Prince to the 2018 murder of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.