Who hacked Jeff’s sexts? And how? (video)

Jeff Bezos’ security consultant suspects an unidentified “government entity.” UPDATE: An independent cybersecurity expert says not so fast.

From the Washington Post’s Manuel Roig-Franzia:

Gavin de Becker told us that he does not believe Jeff Bezos’ phone was hacked. He thinks it’s possible that a government entity might have got hold of his text messages.

Cue the full MSNBC video:

My take: No Apple angle yet, but this story is still developing. We don’t know what device, if any, Bezos used for intimate communications. He’s not a guy who spends a lot of time on a smartphone. His tweet last night was reportedly sent from an iPhone, but I couldn’t find any photos of him using one in the wild.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t read what Bezos posted on Medium last night, what are you waiting for? Here’s the link: No thank you, Mr. Pecker. For a first blog post, it’s not bad.

For what it’s worth, I have new admiration for the man. As Kara Swisher put it:

I don’t love in general, but I LOVE Jeff Bezos in particular here.

UPDATE: The Apple angle.

From Errata Security’s How Bezo’s dick pics might’ve been exposed by Robert Graham:

If the sexy images were sent via email, then likewise simply knowing her email password would grant somebody access to them. GMail makes it really easy to access old emails that you don’t care about anymore. You can likewise enable “two-factor authentication” to protect your email account, with a better factor that just text messages to your phone.

If she has an iPhone, and the pics were sent as normal text messages, then hacking her Apple account might reveal them. By default, iPhone’s back these up to the cloud (“iCloud”). But not so fast. Apple has strong-armed their customers to enable “two-factor authentication”, so the hacker would need to intercept the message.

But Apple text messages don’t always go across the phone system. When it’s two iPhones involved, or Apple-to-iPhone, such messages go across their end-to-end encrypted iMessage service, which even state actors like the NSA and FBI have trouble penetrating. Apple does a better job than anybody protecting their phones, such that even if I knew the password to your account, I’m not sure I could steal your sexting images.

Graham’s full take is worth a read. His point is that it’s relatively easy to guess a celebrity’s passwords by piggybacking on the work of professional hackers. You’ll want to get your own copy of Collection #1.

15 Comments

  1. Gregg Thurman said:

    What does this have to do with Apple’s future growth prospects, in particular Services and Wearables?

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    February 8, 2019
    • S Lawton said:

      Would you rather talk about the developers allowing screenshots to record activity on Apple apps? So much for privacy.

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      February 8, 2019
      • Gregg Thurman said:

        I’d rather exchange thoughts on the growth prospects of the various elements of Services and Wearables.

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        February 8, 2019
        • S Lawton said:

          That’s fine. That’s one part of Apple 3.0 but not the only part. Apple advocates privacy but in the past few weeks, it’s QA on this leaves much to be desired. And yes discussing apps is part of its services.

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          February 8, 2019
          • Jonathan Mackenzie said:

            To me the Apple angle in this story is about the importance of security and privacy. If this data was obtained in any way from an Apple device is shows that they can not yet guarantee personal privacy up against forces as powerful as the NSA (hypothetically).

            But I think trying to make that sound like Apple’s deficiency misses the point. If we live in a world where private moments from our personal lives are subject to politically based attacks involving data obtained from spies and spooks, then that proves why Apple’s fight here is so important.

            The recent news about Facebook and Google circumventing Apple’s policies to spy on users (and other app makers using screenshots to record activity) does not reflect poorly on Apple. It bolsters Apple’s argument that this kind of invasion of privacy does not belong on our personal devices. Which other companies are making this claim? Which companies are invading our privacy in order to make money? You can try and make it sound like this reflects badly on Apple, but that’s silly. It reflects badly on those who make money on other people’s private activity.

            2
            February 8, 2019
            • Jonathan Mackenzie said:

              And if it turns out that these texts and pictures were not sent from an iPhone, well then that’s an Apple angle too, IMHO.

              To me the over arching point is that there seem to be some folks (like former FBI Director Comey) who want us to believe that privacy from the police is not a requirement of civilized people. There are a number of examples why this is simply wrong. The idea that state tools might be used to embarrass political opponents is an obvious one that comes to mind in the subtext of this article.

              I think given the large number of dystopic outcomes possible in a world that is globally connected in real time, we should consider ourselves lucky that a company as large and powerful as Apple actually believes in personal privacy.

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              February 8, 2019
  2. Kathy Corby said:

    Hi Gregg– happy to talk services and wearables, but don’t for a New York minute believe that there’s not an Apple angle here. If the (presumably hacked) selfies were taken and messaged on an iPhone, then iMessage has been compromised and Apple’s claims to superior security for its message platform will be under uncomfortable scrutiny. Since security is a concern not only for those who unwisely transmit compromising selfies, but for almost everyone, the adverse publicity will hit Apple as collateral damage to the whole unsavory story.

    3
    February 8, 2019
    • Gregg Thurman said:

      Hi Kathy. I don’t disagree that there might be an Apple angle here. I just don’t see that angle nearly as important as exploring Apple’s future. As for “collateral damage” if Bezos actually took these photos, took them on an iPhone and his iPhone and/or iMessage was hacked I DO NOT SEE THAT AS A SIGNIFICANT, LEVEL NG TERM NEGATIVE for Apple.

      No firm has been hit with negative news, over an extended period of time than has Facebook, and since its Year low (Nov 2018) FB is up 35%, while AAPL is up from its year low only 20%. My point is that the market isn’t as interested in these transitory issues as the blogosphere. The market is interested in the future, which is where I think we should be focused.

      The Bezos issue will pass like every other Applegate issue of the past and both Apple and AAPL will move on. I’d like to be ahead of that move. Services and Wearables will be at the forefront of that move, not a transitory issue like Bezos selfies.

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      February 8, 2019
  3. NYU’s Scott Galloway thinks Bezos is going to do to the National Enquirer what Peter Thiel did to Gawker. He lays out the case in a 5 minute special episode of Pivot:

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/special-report-scott-galloway-on-bezos-vs-ami-boom/id1073226719?i=1000429487057&mt=2

    I’m torn. On one hand, that rag has been asking to be buried. Good riddance. On the other, I don’t like to see guys with lawyers killing news outlets they don’t like. What if someone rich and powerful went after the Washington Post? Oh wait…

    2
    February 9, 2019
  4. S Lawton said:

    ” I don’t like to see guys with lawyers killing news outlets they don’t like. What if someone rich and powerful went after the Washington Post? Oh wait…” Really? Besos killed the Washington Post?

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    February 9, 2019
    • “Really? Besos killed the Washington Post?”

      Do I have to spell it out? Five letters, rhymes with “plump”

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      February 9, 2019
      • S Lawton said:

        He’s not doing a very good job. One upshot of his effort is that how Fed Ex and UPS are looking over their shoulders at Amazon’s growing competition.

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        February 9, 2019
  5. Jonny Tilney said:

    Why wouldn’t he have been using an Amazon Fire phone back then…

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    February 10, 2019

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