“When President Trump calls old friends on one of his iPhones to gossip, gripe or solicit their latest take on how he is doing, American intelligence reports indicate that Chinese spies are often listening — and putting to use invaluable insights into how to best work the president and affect administration policy, current and former American officials said,” Matthew Rosenberg and Maggie Haberman report for The New York Times. “Mr. Trump’s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure, and they have told him that Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on the calls, as well. But aides say the voluble president, who has been pressured into using his secure White House landline more often these days, has still refused to give up his iPhones. White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them.”
“The officials said they have also determined that China is seeking to use what it is learning from the calls — how Mr. Trump thinks, what arguments tend to sway him and to whom he is inclined to listen — to keep a trade war with the United States from escalating further. In what amounts to a marriage of lobbying and espionage, the Chinese have pieced together a list of the people with whom Mr. Trump regularly speaks in hopes of using them to influence the president, the officials said,” Rosenberg and Haberman report. “Officials said the president has two official iPhones that have been altered by the National Security Agency to limit their abilities — and vulnerabilities — and a third personal phone that is no different from hundreds of millions of iPhones in use around the world. Mr. Trump keeps the personal phone, White House officials said, because unlike his other two phones, he can store his contacts in it… the calls made from the phones are intercepted as they travel through the cell towers, cables and switches that make up national and international cellphone networks. Calls made from any cellphone — iPhone, Android, an old-school Samsung flip phone — are vulnerable.”
“Administration officials said Mr. Trump’s longtime paranoia about surveillance — well before coming to the White House he believed that his phone conversations were often being recorded — gave them some comfort that he was not disclosing classified information on the calls,” Rosenberg and Haberman report. “In an interview this week with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Trump quipped about his phones being insecure. When asked what American officials in Turkey had learned about the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, he replied, ‘I actually said don’t give it to me on the phone. I don’t want it on the phone. As good as these phones are supposed to be.'”
“He does not use email, so the risk of a phishing attack like those used by Russian intelligence to gain access to Democratic Party emails is close to nil. The same goes for texts, which are disabled on his official phones,” Rosenberg and Haberman report. “His Twitter phone can connect to the internet only over a Wi-Fi connection, and he rarely, if ever, has access to unsecured wireless networks, officials said.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: There’s a lot of conjecture in the full article, but what it boils down to is that, according to sources, Trump sometimes uses an iPhone to make calls to friends and he seems to be well aware that these calls are insecure. What’s never posited in the article, strangely, is the possibility that Trump could purposely say things on these calls that he wants potential eavesdroppers to hear. If you knew your voice calls on a certain device could be listened to by adversaries, you’d use that to your advantage, right?
Regardless, there’s no email or texting, so there’s no risk there and the biggest risk possible, the nightmare scenario: an Android phone, doesn’t exist either.
As the article states, calls made from any cellphone by anyone could be vulnerable to those who are determined to eavesdrop.