Cybersecurity has always been a critical issue in the world especially when multiple loopholes are found in billionaire-operated applications like Facebook and WhatsApp but what happens when one of the richest countries in the world is involved in targeting the private data of the world's richest man?
Still not clear? Well, it is time for a rewind!
In 2018, Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated, and Muhammad Bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the richest ruler in the world took full responsibility as the head of the state of the killing. This made him land in hot waters with the United Nations.
Source: The Daily Beast
Well, this really may not be MBS’ (as he is popularly known) time because he has been accused of hacking Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos’ iPhone and has made headlines in the tech news. The relationship between the two became strained when Jamal Khashoggi, who worked for Washington Post and was known as a popular critique of Muhammad Bin Salman’s government, was murdered.
But what caused the rift between Bezos and MBS? Well, it’s because Bezos also owns Washington Post and regarded Khashoggi as one of his best employees.
Source: The New York Post
Before Khashoggi’s assassination in Istanbul that scandalized MBS' government, even more, it was reported that he and Bezos were on good terms and had some friendly interactions via a popular messaging app, WhatsApp.
However, in May 2018, Bezos faced issues of some strange activity on his phone and experts found that his data was compromised with complex hacking techniques. In October of the same year, Khashoggi’s death strained the relationship between the two billionaires.
But now MBS is facing serious allegations by United Nations human rights experts who have ordered an investigation into the case to check the Crown Prince's “continuous, direct and personal efforts to target perceived opponents”.
Well, you should know that even though MBS did not take personal responsibility of assassinating Jamal regardless of what the evidence revealed, he still supported the incident as the sole prince of Saudi Arabia.
So how did the phone hack come about and why is MBS being held accountable? Well, recent research by a team of experts employed by Bezos revealed that a video message on Whatsapp was found as the primary source of causing disturbances in Bezo’s phone and the message was sent by none other than MBS!
His number has been traced through the message and Agnes Callamard, special rapporteur on summary execution and extrajudicial killings said that the “possible involvement” of MBS has to be investigated.
The Guardian Newspaper broke this story and said the hack took place before the murder of Khashoggi. So after Bezos received the video file, a huge amount of data was transferred from his phone at the source of hacking.
Ms Callamard stated that they suspect the Crown Prince wanted to “influence, if not silence, the Washington Post’s reporting on Saudi Arabia”. Well, even though the Crown has denied the accusation in an official Twitter statement released by Saudi’s US embassy saying “We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out”, MBS has been known to silence his critics.
An episode of Patriot Act on Netflix, hosted by the comedian Hasan Minhaj was banned in Saudi Arabia because it heavily criticized the practices observed by the kingdom and labelled them murderers of Kamal Khashoggi.
Source: Times of Israel
The Crown argued that the episode violated cyber and moral laws of Netflix, and the streaming site was forced to block it from airing in Saudi.
The analysts say that before the hacking took place, the prince and Bezos exchanged numbers which was also reported in smartphone news and then a month after the video file was sent there was a “massive and unprecedented exfiltration of data” from Bezos’ iPhone.
Even though Jeff Bezos has remained silent on the matter, he did tweet a picture of himself with Khashoggi's fiancé and tagged it #Jamal.
The investigations are being carried out to see if MBS himself was involved in the cybercrime or was he just a mere bait for someone more dangerous than the two billionaires.
Experts say that if the kingdom is not found guilty of the crime, then they need to search for the person who spied on the activities of both the parties involved to further strain their relationship.