When Jamal Khashoggi was communicating via WhatsApp with Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi dissident living in Canada, he probably thought, like many other users, that his messages were hidden using the WhatsApp end-to-end encryption used by default within the application.
Jamal Khashoggi’s Phone Reportedly Compromised through Malware
However, it is reported that Khashoggi’s mobile phone had been compromised and the content of his phone, including all messages were being monitored remotely through the use of malware.
The software is produced by a company who deny any involvement in the death of Jamal Khashoggi, however, once installed, the software allows for complete access of a mobile phone, including camera, keyboard and data, including GPS locations.
This can allow a hacker to identify the location of an individual as well as who they are communicating with and the nature of that communication.
Installation can be via an apparently innocuous settings update message that purports to be from the service provider that, when clicked, actually adds the application hidden on the phone.
How the Phone Malware was Reportedly Installed and Functioned
The software uses hidden vulnerabilities within an operating system and applications contained on it (known as Zero Days) that allow a hacker to gain access to the Apple of Android based handset and allows remote access to the device by a third party.
Researchers say that a text message sent to Omar Abdulaziz’s phone was disguised as an update about a package that he had just ordered and gave access to his phone, including all conversations with Jamal Khashoggi.
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