Security

President Trump using unsecured Android phone in office, report says

A recent New York Times report claims that US President Donald Trump is still using his old Samsung Galaxy phone, despite previous reports that he gave it up in favor of a secured device.

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Image: whitehouse.gov

US President Donald Trump is still using his unsecured Android phone in office, despite a past report claiming that he turned it in for a secure, encrypted device with more limited features. The news comes by way of a New York Times report that said Trump has kept the phone, despite "protests of some of his aides."

The report came only a few days after another New York Times report said that Trump traded his "Android phone for a secure, encrypted device approved by the Secret Service with a new number that few people possess." The shift to a new device with a new number was especially important, given that Trump has been known to personally take his own calls.

One of the reasons that Trump could have held onto the phone would be to continue his use of the social media site Twitter. As noted by former US President Barack Obama, the secure phone given to him while in office had very few features, and was almost similar to a toddler's play phone. Obama's phone couldn't play music, send text messages, or take photos, for security reasons.

SEE: Mobile Device Research: 2016 security trends, attack rates, and vendor ratings for smartphones, tablets, laptops, and wearables (Tech Pro Research)

The behavior is interesting, because it mimics one of the actions that Hilary Clinton was criticized for during her time in office as Secretary of State. During her tenure, Clinton used a BlackBerry phone to communicate, include sending and receiving emails through her now-infamous private server. The NSA requested Clinton use a secure Windows Phone called the Sectera Edge, but she chose to continue using her personal BlackBerry.

From what we can gather, it isn't illegal for the president to use his personal phone while in office, but it is advised against. The more serious point of contention, however, is what kind of information is being accessed on the device, and how highly it is classified.

The situation also opens the conversation for IT admins and security professionals talk with their executives about their mobile devices and how well they are secured, what data is accessed on them, and whether they are managed through an MDM platform. As ZDNet's Steve Ranger wrote, security policies are easy to write, but hard to enforce.

To address similar concerns, UK telecoms giant BT is working on beefing up iPhone 7 security to handle military-level secrets for the UK armed forces. The goal is to turn it into a dual-persona device that can handle both personal and confidential matters.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. US President Donald Trump is reportedly still using his personal Android phone, despite its lack of additional security features.
  2. The behavior is similar to that which Hillary Clinton was criticized for when she used her personal BlackBerry as Secretary of State.
  3. IT leaders and security professionals should talk with executives about how they are using their smartphones, and what can be done to protect them.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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