The report's conclusions once again raise questions about the shadow world of private hackers. For the right customer or the right amount, such hackers seem to have infiltrated the phone of one of the richest and most powerful men in the world. The report did not specify which private cybersecurity company was used, rather it indicated that Tel Aviv-based NSO Group and Milan-based hacking team have the capabilities to deal with this attack.
The hack also revealed how popular messaging platforms like WhatsApp have vulnerabilities that attackers can take advantage of. In October, WhatsApp sued the NSO faction before a federal court, claiming that NSO's spy technology was used in its service against journalists and human rights defenders. WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, fixed the bug used by the malware.
"This case highlights the threats posed by a lawless and unaccountable private surveillance industry," said David Kaye, United Nations Special Rapporteur, who co-authored the statement on Wednesday. "The companies that develop these tools are extremely skillful and aggressive, and it's a cat-and-mouse game right now."
NSO said it was not involved in any hack on Mr. Bezos' phone. The hacking team did not respond to a request for comment. WhatsApp declined to comment, as did FTI Consulting, the company that had commissioned the Bezos security team to investigate their phone and that was doing the forensic analysis. Amazon declined to comment on Mr. Bezos's behalf.
Malware that is explicitly designed to locate private online communications, also known as spyware, has grown to be a $ 1 billion industry. While companies like the NSO Group and the Hacking Team have been accused of using their spyware with governments to monitor dissidents and others, smaller companies are also selling simpler versions of the software for just $ 10 to let people have their spouses or children can sniff.
Ron Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, who was not involved in the Bezos investigation, said the Amazon boss' situation was "a reminder that the spread of commercial spyware is a global security problem for all sectors , by the government and businesses for civil society. "
In the years in which he operated Amazon, Mr. Bezos was largely private. That changed when The National Inquirer published photos and news between him and Ms. Sanchez, a television presenter, last year. Mr. Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Bezos later divorced.