In May 2018, Amazon’s Chairman, President, and CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Jeff Bezos’ phone was hacked and now Facebook said that it was the fault of Apple’s OS (Operating System) as WhatsApp’s end to end encryption cannot be hacked.
While the investigations were underway, it was believed that Bezos’ iPhone was hacked as he opened a 4.4 MB video file that he received from the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman back in May of 2018 via WhatsApp. In the similar way phone of almost 1,500 Human Right activists, and journalists were hacked using Pegasus (software) from the NSO Group, Israel.
Last week in an interview with the BBC, Nick Clegg, Vice President, Global Affairs & Communications, Facebook said that the hacking was not the fault of WhatsApp as it has end to end encryption which makes it unhackable, he blamed Apple’s OS for Bezos’ phone getting compromised.
Clegg, while addressing everyone said “It sounds like something on the… you know, what they call the operate, operated on the phone itself. It can’t have been anything, when the message was sent, in transit, because that’s end-to-end encrypted on WhatsApp” during the interview.
He compared the hacking scenario to being hit by spyware or malware from emails, saying “it only comes to life when you open it”.
The report from FTI Consulting said that as Bezos’ received the video file his phone sent large amount of data which included private messages with Lauren Sanchez, his girlfriend. FTI Consulting is the firm which was given the task to investigate Bezos’ phone after the hacking.
Clegg anticipates that iPhone’s OS must have been affected by “something”. Clegg said “As sure as you can be that the technology of end-to-end encryption cannot, other than unless you have handset, or you have the message at either end, cannot be hacked into”.
Apple has not replied to Clegg’s comments made about their operating system. More so, the NSO Group has denied of being of a part of Jeff Bezos’ phone hacking.
WhatsApp feature of end to end encryption is there by default, which means that either the sender or the recipient can see the messages, not even Facebook/ WhatsApp, or any server owner through which the message passes can decrypt the message (text, video, or even image).
Having said this, it was seen that a part of NSO Group’s software was able to exploit the video calling feature in WhatsApp by installing the spyware through missed calls.
How an end to end encryption works is once the sender sends a message it gets jumbled in such a format that it cannot be decrypted en-route, at times a huge number is used whose square root will be a prime number (the key). The number will be so huge that even a super computer will take hundreds of years to find the square root. The only way one can hack into the data is either they have access to the handset or either the sender or the recipient, as the devices are decrypted.