Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to his mobile phone during a lunch stop, Feb. 18, 2016, in North Charleston, S.C.
Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Ignoring advice, Trump is still using his ‘old, unsecured’ phone

When Donald Trump spoke to the New York Times about his transition to presidential life, he mentioned a surprising detail: Trump is still using “his old, unsecured Android phone, to the protests of some of his aides.”

It’s a curious choice. In case anyone’s forgotten, for over a year, the political world decided that the single most important story in the United States in 2016 was Hillary Clinton’s use of an unsecured email server, which could’ve been vulnerable to a cyber-attack (which, by all appearances, never happened). Trump repeatedly attacked Clinton over her I.T. practices.

And yet, here we are. The New York Times added that the president’s use of an old smartphone “raises concerns that its use could be exposing him and the nation to security threats.”
He is using the Android smartphone mainly to post on Twitter, not to make calls. But it’s unclear what security measures have been put in place on the device and how vulnerable he could be to someone stealing data or breaking into his Twitter account. […]

Twitter requires a connection to the internet, which exposes the device to security vulnerabilities if proper measures like two-factor authentication – a password and a code texted to a phone, for example – are not in place. If he uses the smartphone on an unsecure Wi-Fi network, he could be exposing his location and other personal information on the device.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told the Times, “The absolutely minimum Trump could do to protect our nation is to use a secure device to protect him from foreign spies and other threats. It would be irresponsible in the extreme for the commander in chief to use an unsecure device that could be easily hacked or intercepted.”

The security threats are a legitimate concern, of course, but I’m also struck by the hypocrisy. Didn’t Republicans just spend a year attacking Clinton’s email server as an unforgivable lapse that endangered Americans? Didn’t GOP leaders use this to argue that Clinton shouldn’t receive intelligence briefings?

Did Trump not understand the nature of the criticisms?

Postscript: On a related note, Politico reported a few days ago that some White House staffers, beset by “disorganization,” were still “using personal email addresses.” Newsweek had a related report yesterday about senior Trump aides having private email accounts through the Republican National Committee.