Senate Democrats Claire McCaskill and Tom Carper have sent a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis asking for details on President Donald Trump’s continued use of a personal, unsecured Android device. The move comes after a litany of recent reports documenting his use of the phone, and his staging of an impromptu open-air situation room at Mar-a-Lago last weekend.
McCaskill and Carper want to know why he’s still using the phone despite having received a newer secured and encrypted model.
The phone in question is widely speculated to be a Samsung Galaxy S3, released way back in May of 2012. The S3 runs on an old version of Android, specifically Jelly Bean 4.3. The last update to this operating system was on October 3, 2013.
One of the reasons for operating system updates is the installation of new security features and patches, which help protect against evolving threats. If Trump is still on Jelly Bean 4.3., his data could be compromised, along with the device’s microphone and camera. Via McCaskill and Carper’s letter:
“Manufacturers regularly release updates for smartphone software systems, in part, because new security risks are constantly emerging. Hackers are sometimes successful even when smartphone users take recommended precautions and restrict access to their personal information. These vulnerabilities are among the reasons why national security agencies discourage the use of personal devices.”
Highlighting the vulnerability of mobile devices, Russian hackers remotely hijacked Android phones used by Ukrainian artillerymen from 2014 through 2016, essentially turning their phones into GPS trackers. These are the same hackers, incidentally, thought to be responsible for security hits on Democrats last summer.
When Obama was in office, his advisers replaced his regular Blackberry phone with a stripped down, encrypted version. He could only use it to communicate with 12 others with the same device.
Donald Trump loves to use his phone—as do many of us—to tweet. Here’s a recent security-related post from his legendary Twitter account:
The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by "intelligence" like candy. Very un-American!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017
Trump would be smart to use WhistleOut to shop for a newer device with better security features. If he’s wants to stay with Samsung, there are a host of device and plan deals to browse through on the site. Or he can wait a bit longer for the Samsung Galaxy S8 to come out.