How Jeff Bezos’ iPhone X Was Hacked

How Jeff Bezos’ iPhone X Was Hacked


Over the years that he has run Amazon, Mr. Bezos has largely kept private. That changed when The National Enquirer published photos and messages last year between him and Ms. Sanchez, a TV anchor. Mr. Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, later got a divorce.

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Credit…via FTI

On Feb. 7, 2019, Mr. Bezos went public with what he said were troubling developments connected to The Enquirer. In a post on Medium, he accused The Enquirer of trying to blackmail him with his own text messages and photos and said he had asked Gavin de Becker, a private investigator, to determine how his phone had been hacked.

Ten days later, Mr. de Becker was advised by a “leading intelligence expert” to conduct a forensic analysis of Mr. Bezos’ iPhone and to look for Saudi fingerprints in the hack, according to notes in the report. The report did not identify the intelligence expert who reached out to Mr. de Becker.

Mr. de Becker, who declined to comment, hired FTI Consulting on Feb. 24, 2019, to examine Mr. Bezos’ phone. FTI was initially asked to look into several text messages that Mr. Bezos had received from the WhatsApp account of the Saudi prince. In mid-May 2019, Mr. Bezos handed over his iPhone X and asked FTI to run a full analysis on it, according to the report.

FTI zeroed in on an April 2018 dinner in which Prince Mohammed and Mr. Bezos had exchanged phone numbers in Los Angeles. After that, FTI found, the WhatsApp account of the prince initiated contact with Mr. Bezos repeatedly and without prompting.

The May 2018 message that contained the innocuous-seeming video file came out of the blue, the report said. In the 24 hours after it was sent, Mr. Bezos’ iPhone began sending large amounts of data, which increased approximately 29,000 percent over his normal data usage.

In additional notes to the report, which were obtained by The New York Times, investigators said several phone apps were being used during the time that data was leaving the phone. Those included the Safari web browser and the Apple Mail program, both of which Mr. Bezos did not appear to be using heavily himself. Mr. Bezos did not have iCloud backup enabled on the phone, the notes added, which would have also explained large amounts of data leaving the phone.



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