Facebook responded to reports that Jeff Bezos’ phone was hacked via WhatsApp with a big “well, actually…”
Over the past few days, reports piled up indicating that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman sent a malware-laden video to Bezos via WhatsApp that let him access the Amazon CEO’s private data. Until Thursday, Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, had been silent. But now one Facebook official is trying to put some of the blame on Bezos’ iPhone.
At the billionaire sleep-away camp known as Davos, Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, told Bloomberg that the company was taking the allegations “seriously.”
She also said the company would certainly look into them before delivering the standard line of refusing to “comment on any individual story.”
She did add, however, “One of the things that it highlights is actually some of the potential underlying vulnerabilities that exist on the actual operating systems on phones. From a WhatsApp perspective, from a Facebook perspective, the thing that we care about the most, the thing that we invest in is making sure that the information that people have with us is safe and secure.”
For what it’s worth, Bezos’ hacked phone was reportedly an iPhone X, meaning the operating system, in this case, was a version of iOS.
Mendelsohn is mostly correct, given WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption. In this case, Bezos received the infected message from a number he trusted, one he knew belonged to bin Salman.
As Sara Morrison , “It’s worth pointing out that a default setting in WhatsApp allowed Bezos’s phone to download the video file — and any malware therein — automatically. You can opt-out of this feature to help protect against something like this happening to you.”
So, technically, no, this wasn’t totally WhatsApp’s fault but it still happened via WhatsApp and that’s something readers should keep in mind.