Cybersecurity

Worries over Trump's smartphone continue

President Donald J. Trump delivers his inaugural address 

Leading Democrats on a Senate committee are asking questions about the security of President Trump's personal smartphone.

Although reports had indicated that President Donald Trump had given up his potentially leaky Android smartphone in favor of an encrypted Secret Service phone, top Democratic members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs aren't so sure he has.

They want written confirmation the president knows about the Secret Service phone.

In a Feb. 9 letter to Department of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, committee Ranking Member Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and member Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), said they had "serious security concerns related to President Trump's reported use of a personal, unofficial smartphone."

Citing numerous late January news reports from sources such as the New York Times, Politico and the Associated Press noting the president was still using the Android phone, the senators asked Mattis to provide written confirmation by March 9 that the president had received an encrypted Secret Service smartphone and that he is using it.

They also asked that the Defense Information Systems Agency and the White House Communications Agency oversee, develop and implement protective measures for the president's use of a personal smartphone.

Tight smartphone security would seem to be a necessary precaution as President Trump is reportedly using the device to hone foreign policy in public places.

CNN reported he used his phone in a meeting at a Saturday night dinner gathering at Mar-a-Lago sitting next to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

When news of a North Korean test launch of a medium-range ballistic missile came through, the CNN report said the president "took the call on a mobile phone at his table, which was set squarely in the middle of the private club's dining area."

Trump and members of his national security team, seated on an outdoor patio, reviewed documents apparently related to the missile launch. Some of the activity, including Trump staffers using cellphone flashlights to illuminate documents, was captured by a club member and posted to Facebook.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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