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Report: Bezos phone uploaded GBs of personal data after getting Saudi prince’s WhatsApp message

Screenshot of WhatsApp mobile application.

Enlarge (credit: WhatsApp)

It’s like a plot from a bad thriller: a forensic analysis paid for by Jeff Bezos found that his cell phone coughed up massive amounts of personal information within hours of receiving a WhatsApp-attached video file sent by the future king of Saudi Arabia, the Guardian and the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

The text, the analysis is reported to say, came on May 1, 2018. That’s when Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent Bezos a text over WhatsApp weeks after the two had exchanged numbers. Their relationship started out cordially but became strained as The Washington Post reported that the Saudi government was behind the gruesome killing and subsequent dismemberment of veteran Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He used to contribute a regular column in the Bezos-owned Washington Post criticizing Prince Mohammed’s autocratic leadership. The FT report is here, and the report from the Guardian is here.

Massive and unauthorized exfiltration

Within hours of Bezos’ receipt of the video, the analysis found, “a massive and unauthorized exfiltration of data from Bezos’s phone began, continuing and escalating for months,” the FT reported. That amount of data surreptitiously exfiltrated from the device “was in the dozens of gigabytes, compared to the few hundred kilobytes daily afterage in the months before the video file was sent.

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