If rumors of the latest breach of protocol coming from the White House are true – the president handing out his cellphone number to world leaders – President Donald Trump’s administration may be vulnerable to another type of breach more familiar to the cybersecurity industry.
Trump allegedly gave his mobile phone number to the leaders of Canada, Mexico and France, the Associated Press (AP) cited former and current U.S. officials as saying. Those sources said that only Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has made use of the number.
Security around the president’s cellphone communications was seemingly tighter during the Obama administration when the then-leader had to relinquish certain apps on his Blackberry and access to his number restricted to just a few people.
“If you are speaking on an open line, then it’s an open line, meaning those who have the ability to monitor those conversations are doing so,” the AP quoted former National Security Council official Derek Chollet, currently at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, as saying about a president potentially eschewing the usual secured line in favor of a mobile line to speak to other world leaders. “If someone is trying to spy on you, then everything you’re saying, you have to presume that others are listening to it.”
It’s not the first time Trump’s mobile and social media practices have raised security concerns. A discussion about a North Korean missile launch with Japan Prime Minister Shinzu Abe in a dining room at Mar-a-Lago raised eyebrows not only because of its public location but also because those around the two leaders seemed to be using cellphone flashlights to illuminate documents in the dimly lit room. And the president’s late-night tweet fests have prompted concern that he’s still relying on a personal unsecured phone.