When it was aired on Twitter in late January that Trump's Twitter handle @POTUS was registered to a private gmail account, (oh the nature of the beast!) the White House quietly made account changes, switching the security email account from the originally posted private gmail address to a White House email address. While the current administration can argue that they have corrected the cybersecurity issue, another remains: Donald Trump continues to use an unsecured Android phone to post his late-night tweets.
As the DDoS cyberattack in October 2016 proved, it's not difficult for cybercriminals to gain access to smart devices and essentially shut down the internet. Imagine what they could do through the president's smart phone. Trump's usage of his personal Android phone presents a major cyber risk, and though the government might have cyber risk insurance, the human toll of a cyberattack far outweighs the financial.
The Android Phone: Trump's Cyber Risk
During former president Obama's term in office, the 44th president used a strongly modified BlackBerry to be used for specific communication purposes only. Upon getting the smart device, Mr. Obama was told "this is a great phone, state of the art, but it doesn't take pictures, you can't text, the phone doesn't work, you can't play music on it." The BlackBerry did not have apps or even grant access to other communication tools for security purposes. When the Trump administration took office, the 45th president received a similar phone, but it's unknown if the device is being used.
According to TechNewsWorld, Trump was worried about losing access to his private device and citing the Times, unnamed Trump aides \"told reporters he [was] worried about how isolated he could become in the White House without his phone to keep in touch with friends.\"
As reported by The New York Times, Trump is using his Android phone to post on Twitter only, he does not make or receive state calls. What is unknown is if any security measures have been taken to protect the Trump's private smart device. As of the writing of this article, the White House has not responded to these cybersecurity questions.
To use the Twitter app, users must have a connection to the internet. Unless the sitting president uses a two-factor authentication process on his Android, his private phone is at risk of a cyber breach. Wired Magazine writes that "Android phones have notoriously uneven security because the operating system is open source, allowing manufacturers and third-parties to put modified versions, or 'forks,' of Android onto devices before selling them. This often makes it more difficult for phones to receive updates, patches and full OS upgrades as they come out."
Time and again cybersecurity experts advise the public to update their devices with every new security software rollout and make they are using a secure Wi-Fi connection. Android is vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches because it does not have a failsafe cybersecurity code. If a cybercriminal is able to gain access to Trump's phone, they can track where he is through GPS log his keystrokes and record his phone conversations by hijacking the microphone and camera, all unbeknownst to him.
If you feel uncomfortable knowing the NSA can read your text messages, how do you feel knowing a state-sponsored foreign cybercriminal can do the same to the serving president of the United States? Where the President's unsecured phone is involved, so is every American citizen.
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