President Donald Trump refuses to follow security measures for his phones because he finds them “inconvenient,” according to a report from Politico. The president uses two phones. One is used only for making calls, and the other has Twitter and some news apps on it. He is not following security protocol on either of them.
Upon taking office, Trump reluctantly switched from an Android phone to iPhones that were issued by the White House due to concerns about the security of his phone. He has been asked to swap out the Twitter phone monthly, but has declined to do so and has gone as long as five months with the same phone without having it checked for security issues.
A senior West Wing source indicates that the phone used for calls is “seamlessly swapped out” regularly, but it’s believed that both the microphone and the camera on that phone remain enabled. When asked about the opening that this provides hackers, the White House source said the following.
“Due to inherent capabilities and advancement in technologies, these devices are more secure than any Obama-era devices.”
President Obama’s phones were checked for security issues every 30 days. The cameras, microphones, and GPS on his phones were disabled. The GPS on both of President Trump’s phones has been disabled.
Chief of Staff John Kelly has cracked down on personal cell phone use by White House staff, citing possible security issues. They were banned from the White House in January as a measure intended to “protect White House information technology infrastructure from compromise and sensitive or classified information from unauthorized access or dissemination,” according to a memo sent to staff.
The measure followed a breach of Kelly’s phone during the Trump transition. Cybersecurity experts are baffled by the president’s actions, especially given ongoing negotiations with leaders of other countries. His refusal to follow security protocol for his phones is also seen as ironic given the preponderance of attacks made by Trump and his supporters on Hillary Clinton for her use of a personal server for government business while serving as secretary of state.
In April, CNN reported that White House sources told them that the president’s cell phone use had increased and speculated that it may be to keep Kelly from knowing who he speaks to. At that time, former head of the Justice Department’s security division Mary McCord said the following.
“Because the smartphones of high-level government officials — including the President — are obvious targets for foreign intelligence services, the government goes to significant effort to ensure that government-issued smartphones are constantly updated to address security vulnerabilities. Use of personal smartphones, which may not have all of the security features of government-issued smartphones or be regularly updated to address newly discovered vulnerabilities, present an obvious potential security risk.”
“All communications devices of all senior government officials are targeted by foreign governments. This is not new. What is new in the cell phone age is the ease of intercepting them,” said Bryan Cunningham, executive director of the Cybersecurity Policy and Research Institute at the University of California-Irvine.