President Trump has been ignoring White House protocols aimed at keeping his phones safe, according to a report tonight at Policy . The story goes that Trump has at least two iPhones, one for calls and another to explore Twitter and read news. It is assumed that these have features such as the camera disabled and should be inspected regularly; but according to the report, that has not been the case.
The phone used for calls still has its camera and microphone installed, which are obvious hacking targets that could reveal a lot of intelligence to opponents. In the past, President Obama made it sound as if his phones had taken out the camera and the microphone to eliminate this risk. Trump phones have, at least, their GPS deactivated, according to the report.
It is not clear if the camera and microphone are still present on the phone that the president uses for Twitter. But the report still raises security issues: Attendees would like Trump to exchange the phone monthly to make sure it stays safe, but an anonymous official said he refused to do so because it is "too inconvenient." Another anonymous source seemed to confirm this, saying that the phone does not need regular changes, due to the security features enabled on the phone and the Twitter account. According to reports, it has been five months since the phone was last verified.
The report says it is unclear how often Trump's phone was exchanged, but one of the anonymous officials hinted that it was done regularly. Trump's phone number apparently changes occasionally, which seems to imply that the phone is exchanged from time to time, or that he at least uses several phones. It is reported that Obama handed over his phone for inspection every 30 days so he can be examined for suspicious activity and intrusions.
The details in the report are obviously worrisome from a security perspective, since there is not a phone that can not be hacked. And if hackers have a remote way of activating a microphone, the president's phone is possibly the most valuable goal in which they could use it. Since Trump reads Twitter, it is not unthinkable that hackers try to tap on a malicious link.
At the same time, it is not clear how definitive this account is of Trump's personal safety practices. Everything seems to come from two anonymous officials, and he does not even seem to be sure how many phones the president has. At one point, he says the president uses "at least" two phones, suggesting there could be more. And although one of the sources seems to be the one concerned about its security practices, the other source seems to tacitly confirm the details while rejecting the implication that they are problematic.
Obviously, we have known for some time that Trump has an iPhone in which he uses Twitter; their tweets are labeled as coming from Twitter for iPhone. What has not been clear are the security practices around that phone. And if this report is accurate, it suggests that they are not as strict as they should be. Even leaving aside the ability to listen to the president, getting the ability to send even a single tweet from Trump's account could create chaos before the situation becomes clear.
You could also get into the subject where Trump criticized Hillary without stopping Clinton throughout the 2016 campaign (… and as recently as, oh, yesterday ) for his alleged improper use of technology, although now it seems that it does not follow security protocols. But I do not know if the inconsistency between Trump's language and actions will really surprise anyone.