The crown prince of Saudi Arabia hacked the phone of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos with a malicious WhatsApp message, according to reports.
The two men had a correspondence over WhatsApp in May 2018 and the Saudi prince is said to have sent an infected message and exfiltrated large amounts of data. These claims were denied by the Saudi government's US embassy, which called for a counter investigation on Twitter.
"Recent media reports that suggest the Kingdom is behind a hacking of Mr Jeff Bezos' phone are absurd," it wrote. "We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out."
However, United Nations officials will release a public statement on Wednesday that agrees with an investigation commissioned by Bezos, according to Reuters sources.
In January 2019, AMI-owned US tabloid The National Enquirer published a special edition claiming to have intimate details of an extra-marital affair between Bezos and American news anchor Lauren Sanchez, citing private text messages as a source. Originally, Sanchez's brother Michael was thought to be the source but a private investigator hired for Bezos suggested the leak came from further afield – Saudi Arabia.
Gavin de Becker, a former CIA and FBI agent, explained his own findings in an article for the Daily Beast. "Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos' phone, and gained private information," he confirmed. "As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details," he said
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De Becker didn't reveal exactly who was responsible or how they hacked the phone, but he passed his findings on to the federal authorities. Since he made the claim, however, a number of reports have surfaced about the Saudi Arabia allegedly using WhatsApp for hacking.
A number of critics of the Kingdom have claimed to have been targeted with malware sent via the Facebook-owned messenger service, such as Ghanem Almasarir, a Londoner who is thought to be living under police protection in the UK.
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Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.
Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognise him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.