Yes, that’s true. Jeff Bezos, who is the owner and founder of Amazon (the largest e-commerce store on earth,) amazon prime, amazon cloud services, and Blue Origin, has been in the news lately due to his phone getting hacked. His phone was hacked through a seemingly innocuous video file sent to him on WhatsApp. As per recent investigations, this file seemingly sources back to an account linked to the Saudi Government.
How did it happen?
As per recent reports by “The Guardian” and “The Financial Times,” Jeff Bezos’s iPhone X received a video file from an account that seemingly belongs to Saudi Crown prince “Muhammad bin Salman” While the video can’t be dissected (to check if it had any malware in it) due to the encryption feature in Whatsapp, it was observed that shortly after the message was received, large amounts of data was exfiltrated from Jeff’s account. What’s more horrifying is that the data kept being transferred for several months becuase the hack was identified and caught.
What does MBS have to say about this?
Shortly after the news of Jeff Bezos’s phone getting hacked surfaced on the media, the Saudi Crown prince sent a voice message to Jeff Bezos affirming him that he has nothing against Jeff Bezos or his company Amazon and, that it is only a matter of time before he will discover the truth”
However, the media has a notion that this statement only further adds evidence to the claims.
So, what’s the actual reason to worry here?
The hack happened in Whatsapp, an app that is owned by Facebook and claimed to be extremely safe due to the encryptions. It should be kept in mind here that Whatsapp has come out to be one of the most popular, downloaded and used app in the world (with 1.5 billion users)
While the encryption sure worked well as we observed when the FTI was unable to decrypt the video message due to its encryption, however, if you think about it, the encrypted walls also didn’t stop the gigabytes of data being transferred from Jeff Bezos’s phone. Also, it didn’t identify or notice that there has been an abnormal amount of data being transferred. Now, who is to blame?
What does the cybersecurity experts have to say?
According to Eva Galperin, the director of cybersecurity at EFF, “There is nothing one can do if someone you trust sends you a carefully crafted message containing malware”
According to Maya Levine, a security engineer at Check Point, it is not that Whatsapp is the only app that is especially flawed. Instead, due to its popularity and high usage around the world, it is targetted more by hackers. Also, she pointed out that in case someone succeeds in decrypting the app’s encryption, he/she can get loads of valuable information beyond imagination.
According to Paul Ducklin, a Principal Research Scientist at Sophos, it is very easy for the average user to dismiss this news just becuase they think they are not the ideal hacker target. “Unfortunately, when it comes to cybercrime, no one is immune and no software is 100% bug-free”
While it may seem like the hackers are only after the high-profiles and they won’t target the average users, the truth can’t be further from it. In 2019, billions of dollars were stolen from hacking businesses, start-ups, and average users alike. They try to catch you when you’re off guard. So, it is high time that we prioritize how much information we are going to share online.
Yes, there are mobile security software tools, and they can provide security but no software can guarantee 100% safety. You can use a VPN or browse in TOR Browser, or use a firewall, or antivirus and you can be fine. But it’s always better to reduce the amount of data you share online so that even if the software fails at some point, you are still safe from the breach.