Prolific tweeter-in-chief Donald Trump does not submit to typical White House security protocols when it comes to using his phones.
POLITICO has been informed by two administration sources that the president, who uses at least two White House-issued iPhones, does not swap out his most heavily-used devices often.
One iPhone is used to take calls — unlike prior phones, this modified device retains its microphones and cameras. The other iPhone, limited to the apps of several news publications and Twitter, has gone as long as five months between check-ups by security staff. The reason why? As characterized by a source, Trump thinks it is “too inconvenient.”
An administration official responded to these claims by saying that the calling phone is “swapped out on a regular basis” and that the Twitter phone is secured on the account and hardware level to not warrant frequent swaps. GPS radios are disabled on the devices.
“Due to inherent capabilities and advancement in technologies, these devices are more secure than any Obama-era devices,” the official said.
President Barack Obama swapped out his one phone every 30 days on advice of security staff.
The president does have access to secured phones which are carried by staffers to make calls as per White House policy, but he has been known to call confidants through either blocked numbers or “a 10-digit number that starts with a [Washington DC] area code.” Chief of Staff John Kelly banned his subordinates from using their personal phones in January to prevent unsavory leaks to adversaries and the public.
Still, experts are extremely concerned at the recklessness of Trump’s habits, saying that they can expose him, his allies and his positions to great risk.
“It’s baffling that Trump isn’t taking baseline cybersecurity measures at a time when he is trying to negotiate his way out of a trade war with China, a country that is known for using cyber tactics to gain the upper hand in business negotiations,” said Samm Sacks of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who researches topics on China and tech security.