Latest in Gear

Image credit: Mark Wilson via Getty Images

White House confirms its chief of staff was hacked

John Kelly's phone was breached when he served as Secretary of Homeland Security.
3513 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

Mark Wilson via Getty Images

A personal email account of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was hacked, according to an email obtained by Buzzfeed via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. "As we discussed ... my folks are nervous about the emails you send and ask that you no longer include them on any postings," Kelly wrote. "Then there is hacking which one of my own personal accounts has suffered recently. I do almost everything now by phone or face-to-face comms."

The FOIA email confirms previous reports from Politico that Kelly used a compromised smartphone for months. If it's the same incident (the White House never confirmed the original reports), the attack happened during Trump's transition in late 2016 while Kelly was secretary of homeland security.

As we discussed in NYC about the toxic atmosphere here in the D.C. cesspool, my folks are nervous about e-mails you send and ask that you no longer include them on any postings. FOIA is real and everyday here in the cesspool, and even federal court action on personal accounts is real. Then there is the hacking which one of my own personal accounts has suffered recently. I do almost everything now by phone or face-to-face comms.

The name of the person who received the email (above) was redacted, and a Depart of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson (who wouldn't allow her name to be used), said it was a private citizen who had sent numerous emails to Kelly and the DHS. However, two DHS officials "with direct knowledge of the matter" told Buzzfeed that Kelly sent the email to another DHS official.

It's not clear if Kelly used the email account to conduct government business or if there was anything sensitive on it. Shortly after Trump's inauguration, the NSA reportedly told Trump administration officials to stop using personal cellphones and email accounts, as they could be vulnerable to spying by Russia, China and other US adversaries.

The weakest point in the White House, however, might be Trump himself. The president is reportedly refusing to upgrade his iPhones, issued by White House IT agencies to make them more secure, calling the process "too inconvenient." As of last month, he hadn't had them checked by security experts for at least five months. To make matters worse, lawmakers have concerns about fake cell towers around the White House that could eavesdrop on smartphone calls.

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.
Comment
Comments
Share
3513 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

Amazon cuts the price of the 7-in-1 Ninja Foodi cooker to $125

Amazon cuts the price of the 7-in-1 Ninja Foodi cooker to $125

View
Polestar's latest concept EV is designed for sustainability

Polestar's latest concept EV is designed for sustainability

View
How exactly does 5G work?

How exactly does 5G work?

View
NASA says its InSight lander has detected over 450 'marsquakes'

NASA says its InSight lander has detected over 450 'marsquakes'

View
The Morning After: Netflix's new Top 10 lists tell you what's popular

The Morning After: Netflix's new Top 10 lists tell you what's popular

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr