Is Trump’s Unsecured Android Phone a Threat to National Security?

Donald Trump talking on a phone

An army of secret service agents guard the president of the United States 24/7, a secured landline guarantees the secrecy of his work communications, and a presidential car and plane can shield him from a terrorist attack. However, despite enhanced security, Donald Trump’s unsecured Android handset represents a threat to the national security, experts claim.

Trump’s Phone an Easy Target

According to AndroidCentral, which analyzed a photo of Trump talking on his phone in public, the billionaire still uses an antique Samsung Galaxy S3. The smartphone runs on a 5-year-old technology and it has not security enhancements. Last year, former president Obama traded in his NSA-made BlackBerry for a fully secured mobile phone. At the time, Obama refused to give details on the brand or features of the new phone. He only said the device doesn’t have a texting function, cannot take photos, or play music.

By contrast, Trump uses an unsecured handset which could lure in domestic and foreign hackers and spies. These attackers could remotely access the phone’s microphone and listen in to every conversation. Security researchers explained nearly all smartphones sport a built-in location service and a microphone.

Attackers thus can monitor Trump’s movements and remotely activate the mic to record all his private conversations. What’s more, a single tweet from the world’s most powerful man can crash the stock market or start a war.

So, it is crucial for Trump’s smartphone, which represents a miniature computer, to be safe enough so hackers don’t compromise his Twitter account. Terrorists could breach the account and tweet something offensive to another nation to start a diplomatic crisis or an armed conflict.

Other experts said the president’s Twitter account represents a threat to U.S. national security by itself because foreign spies can track Trump’s habits, study his personality, and make predictions on his next moves.

We’ve never had a president that’s shared so much of themselves […] in such an overt manner, and you can be sure that foreign actors are studying that, too,

said defense expert P.W. Singer.

Trump’s Smartphone of Choice

Earlier this week, the times reported the president uses his old smartphone to tweet from the Oval Office. The report was at odds with previous revelations that he now has a secured and encrypted smartphone.

For months, it was unclear what type of phone the real estate business man is using. After they zoomed in some low-resolution images of Trump and his smartphone, AndroidCentral experts agreed on the model: Galaxy S3.

The GS3 can be easily mistaken for GS4 or GS6. Still, the latter’s LED-camera arrangement doesn’t match that of the phone Trump was using in those pictures. Also, the GS3’s headphone jack is located on the top-left side. This is no longer the case with GS6 or newer models.

Samsung rolled out GS3 in 2012, so experts are concerned it may lag behind newer models in security issues. GS3’s last security update was in mid-2015. This means it lacks nearly three years’ worth of security updates, which could be great news for hackers.

However, it is not clear whether Trump still uses the device. According to another Times report, the Secret Service gave him a secured handset recently. The White House hasn’t replied to a request for comment.
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