United Nations bars officials from using WhatsApp over security concerns

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Amid growing concerns over WhatsApp’s security, the United Nations (UN) has asked its officials to not use the messaging app because “it’s not supported as a secure mechanism.” This comes after UN experts accused Saudi Arabia of using the online communications platform to hack the phone of Amazon chief executive and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos.

A UN spokesman told Reuters that officials were barred from using WhatsApp since June 2019 over security. “The senior officials at the U.N. have been instructed not to use WhatsApp, it’s not supported as a secure mechanism,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq told Reuters.

Independent UN rights experts said on Wednesday they had received information that Amazon owner Jeff Bezos’s phone was hacked through a WhatsApp account belonging to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Bezos’ phone got hacked after he received a WhatsApp message “apparently been sent from the personal account of the crown prince”. The UK newspaper The Guardian reported that the “encrypted message from the number is believed to have included a malicious file that infiltrated the phone of the world’s richest man, according to the results of digital forensic analysis.”

The analysis found it “highly probable” that the intrusion into the phone was triggered by an infected video file sent from the account of the Saudi heir to Bezos, the newspaper said. “The two men had been having a seemingly friendly WhatsApp exchange when, on May 1 of that year, the unsolicited file was sent,” Guardian said quoting anonymous sources.

(Inputs from Agencies)

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