The American leader refuses to give up his unsecured, easily spied-upon phone
US President Donald Trump reportedly calls old friends, business partners, and confidants on his unsecured iPhone from the White House, giving Chinese and Russian spies easy access to his conversations.
The New York Times, in a report on Wednesday, cited intelligence reports which detail how Trump aides have repeatedly warned the president not to use his personal iPhone and to use the secure White House landline instead. Despite the warnings, Trump continues to take personal cellphone calls, and the White House has resolved to simply hoping the president doesn’t discuss classified matters over the phone.
US intelligence agencies have reason to believe that Chinese and Russian spies are regularly eavesdropping Trump’s calls by way of human sources within foreign governments and through the interception of communications between foreign officials.
According to NYT, their goal is to keep Trump from escalating the ongoing trade war with China. Chinese intelligence agencies hope to learn more about Trump’s behaviour through his conversations, and then deploy that information in trade negotiations. The Russians are reportedly running a less sophisticated operation because of Trump’s close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which apparently makes influencing Trump to favour Russian interests less of a concern.
Trump reportedly carries around three iPhones, with only two of them containing National Security Agency protections that would limit the ability for others to intercept communications or otherwise exploit vulnerabilities in the device. Trump’s third iPhone is a standard one no different than any of the millions of devices used by Americans every day, and Trump reportedly uses it to call people because he can store his contacts in it. According to the NYT, it is relatively easy for both the US and foreign governments to intercept communications as they travel between cell towers and satellites, and tapping the phones of foreign leaders is considered a highly effective form of modern spying.