On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump tweeted about a crime in Chicago. Often parodied for his late-night Twitter jabs, the just-sworn-into-office president — even before he was president — had already accrued a slight burnish of ignominy from keen-eyed detractors or critics whose brows raise at Trump's oft-polemical statements.
However, that's beside the point. A separate problem, a more pressing one, is what device he's using to tweet, especially now that he's sitting at the most respected seat in the United States.
Trump's Unsecured Android Phone
When he tweeted about that crime in Chicago, he apparently did so from his old unsecured Android handset, The New York Times reported. This was ahead of the inauguration and even with previous reports that indicated he will switch phones, as aides have been encouraging him to do.
Trump's continuous usage of an unsecured phone poses serious national security risks, according to Recode. By contrast, then-President Barack Obama also wanted to resume using a smartphone, but when he was sworn into office, he traded in his BlackBerry for a secure device with encryption features that had most traditional smartphone features turned off and one that could only dial a preselected group of aides who similarly had secure devices of their own.
Individual phones can easily be breached, for someone who's motivated enough perform such an act.
"If I can get in and clone your phone, I got you. You won't even know it," said Larry Johnson, a retired U.S. Secret Service agent, as reported by CNET.
For the inauguration, the Secret Service issued Trump a secured phone, which, according to Johnson, would have limited features. When Obama was handed the secured device, he couldn't even take pictures or send texts, but the phone can still have access to Twitter — Obama had used it to post tweets via his POTUS account.
It's not clear what Android handset Trump could still be using — previous indications point to a Samsung Galaxy device — or whether it's been encrypted.
It is necessary for the president to acquire a secured, properly encrypted phone for reasons too intricate and complex to go into but highly concerns national security. If Trump continues to use an unsecured device, experts say that this will open a number of vulnerabilities. A hacker, for instance, could use keylogging software to see what Trump was typing even before the tweet is sent — or not sent.
Furthermore, experts believe that Trump's phone shouldn't be connected to the internet, as doing so would open the device for attacking. Also, a phone that's designed for commercial distribution should never be present in high-profile meetings where very sensitive topics or discussions are verbalized.
The odd thing is that the Trump campaign spent months criticizing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on her alleged mishandling of emails, and her campaign has claimed that statements about the emails made by the FBI caused Clinton to lose the election.
The White House has yet to comment on Trump's continued usage of an unsecured Android device.