Latest in Gear

Image credit:

China and Russia reportedly eavesdrop on Trump's cellphone calls

It suggests glaring security policy problems with his iPhones.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
October 24, 2018
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

President Trump's reported decision to ignore phone security advice may have had serious consequences. Current and former officials talking to the New York Times said that Trump has refused to stop making calls on his iPhones (two official ones, one personal) despite intelligence officials warning that China and Russia are eavesdropping on his conversations. Officials have succeeded in pushing Trump to use the White House's secure landline more often, but they've allegedly resigned themselves to hoping that he won't discuss classified material when chatting with friends on his smartphones.

It's not certain just how these countries would be snooping on Trump, but the Times understood that it didn't have anything to do with the iPhones themselves. Rather, the other countries are apparently intercepting calls as they pass through cell sites and other elements of the network. That raises questions if so. China and Russia could use SS7 hijacking to reroute calls in transit, but it's unclear if US carriers could keep an eye on this activity.

There are some reassurances. Trump has talked about avoiding the phone for some sensitive subjects, and he doesn't use email. If the report is accurate, though, it's still a significant security breach that would give China and Russia an edge in diplomacy and strategic planning. It also contrasts with former President Obama's use of an ultra-secure BlackBerry and, later, an iPhone so restricted that it couldn't perform most basic functions -- he used aides' phones when a call was absolutely necessary. In Trump's case, the desire for convenience might have outweighed those national security concerns.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

Chevy will start selling EV retrofit kits in 2021

Chevy will start selling EV retrofit kits in 2021

View
SSC NA promises a re-run of the Tuatara's top speed record attempt

SSC NA promises a re-run of the Tuatara's top speed record attempt

View
Google Meet starts rolling out custom backgrounds to web users

Google Meet starts rolling out custom backgrounds to web users

View
Apple program will replace AirPods Pro buds with crackling, ANC issues

Apple program will replace AirPods Pro buds with crackling, ANC issues

View
$149 Playdate handheld is 'ready to go,' orders start in early 2021

$149 Playdate handheld is 'ready to go,' orders start in early 2021

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr