Facebook places blame on Apple iOS for Jeff Bezos’ phone hacking

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on January 28, 2020 Published on January 28, 2020

File photo   -  Bloomberg

In recent developments regarding the hacking of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone, Facebook has placed the blame on Apple iOS for the data being leaked through the phone.

In a recent interview with BBC, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs & Communications, Nick Clegg alleged that it was a fault in the iOS and not Facebook-owned WhatsApp that was infected by the spyware.

The Amazon CEO’s phone was allegedly affected by spyware through a 4.4 MB malicious video file sent via WhatsApp by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, on May 1, 2018, according to reports by The Guardian and the Financial Times.

Clegg, in the BBC interview, claimed that it must have been the operating system that was affected when the video was opened and not WhatsApp that led to the hacking. Since WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, it cannot be hacked, he said in the interview.

BBC also shared a video clip of the interview on its Twitter account with the caption, “We’re as sure as you can be that the technology of end-to-end encryption cannot be hacked into” - Facebook's @nick_clegg says he's “very, very confident” that Jeff Bezos wasn't hacked via WhatsApp.”

“It can’t be anything in the message that was sent, in transit because WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted,” said Clegg in the interview.

“Clearly, when it was opened in the phone, it affected the phone operating system,” he further said.

When asked about the NSO group’s involvement in the hacking, Clegg denied the possibility stating that they were “very confident” that it wasn’t them who were responsible for the hacking.

Jeff Bezos had received the video file via WhatsApp on his iPhone X. Clegg claimed that since WhatsApp is encrypted, the spyware must have affected Apple’s operating system when the video file was opened and the message decrypted.

WhatsApp had filed a lawsuit against the Israeli cyber intelligence company NSO in 2019 for creating spyware called ‘Pegasus’ which can affect the phone through WhatsApp vulnerabilities.

Bezos’ private data acquired from the phone including conversations with former mistress Lauren Sanchez had been leaked to American tabloids, according to media reports.

Experts had also linked the case heavily to the murder of Washington Post’s Jamal Khashoggi. Many experts also suggested that Khashoggi’s phone had also been hacked around the same time, according to a BBC report.

The hacking was seen as an attempt to gain leverage over Bezos who also owns Washington Post, according to experts.

Apple hasn’t commented on Facebook’s claims yet.

Published on January 28, 2020
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