back to article President Trump tweets from insecure Android, security boffins roll eyes

President Donald Trump is still using a conventional Android phone to post on Twitter since moving into the White House. The New York Times reports that the USA's newly installed president is using his old phone mainly to post to Twitter rather than make calls. Security experts nonetheless warn that Trump's use of a personal …

  1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    Is what he tweets a secret?

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      "Is what he tweets a secret?"

      No. How about what he hears and says while that device is around, like, you know, the article said?

      1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        @DavCrew

        You do realize that they make boxes (cases) that will stop snoopers being able to use his phone as a listening device...

        But yeah, he should get a more secure phone and stay away from Android. After all, you really don't know everything being sent back to Google, now do you?

        1. BillG Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: @DavCrew

          Oddly enough, the NY Times doesn't cite a source for the article. They don't even say "an unnamed source" or "an anonymous source". That's rare for the Times.

        2. 9Rune5

          Re: @DavCrew

          "You do realize that they make boxes (cases) that will stop snoopers being able to use his phone as a listening device..."

          Alternatively, just switch the damn thing off between tweets..?

        3. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: @DavCrew

          "You do realize that they make boxes (cases) that will stop snoopers being able to use his phone as a listening device..."

          Yes, but the Mexicans have refused to pay for one ...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Yes, but the Mexicans have refused to pay for one ...

            We'll make them pay.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @DavCrew

          You do realize that they make boxes (cases) that will stop snoopers being able to use his phone as a listening device...

          Yeah, they are used by US government agencies all over. They are called "lockers" and individuals entering into secured spaces are supposed to leave their mobile devices in them before entering those areas. This was one of the things that Hillary and her cohort rightfully caught hell over: she pushed back very hard against this requirement. That our current CiC is headed down the same route is no surprise, either, given his love of Twitter.

          A phone case that prevents it from being used as a listening device will also disable it from being used as a phone while in the case. This is actually handy as it can be used as an indicator for the device being infected with malware. If you put it in airplane mode or turn it off and the battery drains at about the same rate as when in normal use, the device is providing a false status and trying to phone home.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      So, let's suppose for a second that the kid down the street hacks it and posts a "I will now nuke France's sorry a***" in his name on Twitter.

      Or let's look at something more subtle. Someone hacks it, shorts company X stock, then tweets. His tweets have moved shares of multi-billion capitalization public companies by 10% up or down in 10 minutes so that is a very nice tidy sum right there.

      As long as he is carrying that phone and emanating Trumpishness through it he has TARGET written all over him.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'm sure that once the NSA have processed the tweet it will look more like, "I will now nuke ******'s sorry ass[sic]."

      2. niteowljr

        By "kid down the street" do you mean Obama?

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      "Is what he tweets a secret?"

      apparently not, but it might be a better idea to get something that's deliberately "secured". As an example, having a cracked phone in your pocket while discussing security-related things, "listening in". THAT would be bad.

      President Trump: Have the NSA secure your phone, please. k-thx.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That is the question: If all it is being used for is tweets, who cares?

      If he is using it for government email and calls it becomes problematic.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        He doesn't need to use it for government calls and business. It is problematic if he uses it only for tweets if it is compromised and turned into a listening device. That may be above the garden variety hacker level, but such hacks are well known to be possible by nation states. You know, countries like Russia and China who would obviously benefit greatly from having a bug that Trump carries around with him wherever he goes.

        He doesn't even need to visit a dodgy web site or install an app. The phone's baseband can be hacked silently via exploits that spy agencies claim exist in nation state toolsets but aren't publicly known, all they need is to know the phone number. Pretty sure that Russia and China already have the phone number of his Android.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shouldn't be too difficult to identify and pwn that phone. Could be useful to listen in on some of Minority President Trump's more important meetings ...

    1. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Look if I want to listen in on the rants of a fricking nutter I only have to take a trip down the local town square at chucking out time on a Friday night!!!

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "Look if I want to listen in on the rants of a fricking nutter.. out time on a Friday night!!!"

        No doubt.

        But how many of them have access nuclear launch codes?

        Or are in meetings where contracts worth billions of dollars are discussed?

        1. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: "Look if I want to listen in on the rants of a fricking nutter.. out time on a Friday night!!!"

          Well if we're being pedantic El President Trump doesn't have the codes either. What he has are a series of codes one of which will positively identify him as the Commander in Chief in the event that the release of nuclear weapons is required.

  3. I Like Heckling

    Trumps a moron... in other news... Water is wet.

  4. Richard Lloyd

    Android Central already had a guess (by looking at photos of Trump using the phone) that Trump uses a Galaxy S3:

    http://www.androidcentral.com/which-android-phone-does-donald-trump-use

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Android Central already had a guess (by looking at photos of Trump using the phone) that Trump uses a Galaxy S3:

      My guess is that it's actually the 'mini' variant - it only looks like the regular-size model because of his tiny hands.

  5. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Big Brother

    ...you're not the most powerful man in the world

    Neither is he.

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: ...you're not the most powerful man in the world

      "Neither is he.". Lets just settle for the dumphest president then, eventually we have to agree on something so why not start with the easy bits first.

    2. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      Re: ...you're not the most powerful man in the world

      Now you're just splitting hairs.

  6. Slacker@work

    hang on...

    He's not using a "made in the US of A" iPhone??

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: hang on...

      Yes, it's a bit strange he's not using a gold-plated iPhone with a rococo cover with rubies, sapphires and and diamonds - maybe just because he couldn't hire Fabergé to make one...

      Or maybe the only US-made phone he found was an old gadget running some old version of Android...

      1. AHMB

        Re: hang on...

        "Yes, it's a bit strange he's not using a gold-plated iPhone with a rococo cover with rubies, sapphires and and diamonds - maybe just because he couldn't hire Fabergé to make one..."

        Putin has probably sent one Trump as an inauguration present.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: hang on...

          Unluckily, Putin's ancestors made the Fabergé flee.... albeit his actual friends went after the eggs...

    2. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: hang on...

      "He's not using a "made in the US of A" iPhone??"

      Or even a "designed in the US of A" iPhone...

    3. JustNiz

      Re: hang on...

      iPhones arent made in the USA.

      1. Lusty Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: hang on...

        @JustNiz

        Not made in the USA...YET. Big D said he's fixing that. Presumably he'll be waterboarding Tim today now that it's become urgent.

    4. Gis Bun

      Re: hang on...

      Not made in the USA. More like designed. If it was made then add $150 to the price.

    5. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: hang on...

      He's not using a "made in the US of A" iPhone??

      Not even Trump can use something that doesn't exist.

  7. LDS Silver badge
    Joke

    His Russians friends promised not to hack it....

    ... what Chineses will do is another matter...

    1. David Webb

      Re: His Russians friends promised not to hack it....

      The Chinese have a curse "may you live in interesting times".

      Thanks China..........

      (insert obligatory "thanks Obama meme here with Obama swapped for Xi Jinping")

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: His Russians friends promised not to hack it....

      They don't need to - they probably supplied it, complete with root access.

  8. Buzzword

    Shadow IT

    That's a classic case of the CEO ignoring what the IT department tells him/her to do.

  9. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Who d'ya trust?

    ..and these can easily look as if they come from a trusted source.

    Is this still Trump we're talking about there?

  10. WonkoTheSane
    Trollface

    It's quiet... too quiet!

    Where are the Democrats yelling "LOCK HIM UP!" ?

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: It's quiet... too quiet!

      Where are the Democrats yelling "LOCK HIM UP!" ?

      We're above that.

      // plus, it'll be more fun watching him crash and burn

      // just hope he doesn't take all of us with him

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: It's quiet... too quiet!

        The doomsday clock has been moved to 11:58pm since he came to power.

        Just saying.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: It's quiet... too quiet!

          The doomsday clock has been moved to 11:58pm since he came to power.

          That's been in work before he took office. Wait for the next update as it could go either way....

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: It's quiet... too quiet!

      You'll have to bang on about it for months until nobody's sure what he did, just that he should be locked up.

      But yes, there'a nothing different... Private email, insecure phone.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: It's quiet... too quiet!

        "nothing different... Private email, insecure phone"

        Actually, since "private" and "insecure" have no particular relationship to one another, I'd say there was quite a big difference. The common factor is that the NSA are unhappy in both cases. Since one of their core functions is knowing about that kind of shit and another is being on the same side as the US government, I'd have thought that such advice was worth taking. But hey, I'm just some doofus who posts to the internet. I'm not as smart as the leaders of the world.

  11. DoctorNine
    Black Helicopters

    Alternatively...

    It may be that the Secret Service has identified a few tentative intrusions, and so recommended that this story come out, in order to use the device as a honeypot for all the steamed techies out there everywhere.

    1. ST Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Alternatively...

      > [...] a few tentative intrusions [...]

      s/a few tentative/numerous/g

  12. Alan J. Wylie

    Sean Spicer too

    He's White House Press Secretary, and has just tweeted "n9y25ah7". His password perhaps?

    https://twitter.com/evanoconnell/status/824614832691355648

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Sean Spicer too

      They got the greatest security advisers. The smartest.

    2. Gis Bun

      Re: Sean Spicer too

      He's a real dumb ?ss.

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Sean Spicer too

      Nice Lovecraft reference there in the comments...

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Sean Spicer too

      By the way, if you read the replies you'll find it's not the first time he's done it. He also did it yesterday.

    5. Eddy Ito Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Sean Spicer too

      Ok, comments say they tried to log in to his twitter with it so who has tried using this on other accounts? FB? whitehouse.gov?

  13. JLV Silver badge
    Boffin

    Don't worry. Giuliani told him it's safe, and he knows what he's talking about.

    </eom>

  14. Gis Bun

    Meanwhile, according to WauchulaGhost [who claimed to have hacked 500 pro-ISIS accounts], the Twitter accounts for Trump, Melania Trump and Mike Pence are more vulnerable to hackers because of a basic Twitter security setting they're not using. With a little bit of work "he" figured out that the Twitter account for Pence is a associated with a less secure Gmail account and both Trumps also use Gmail accounts.

  15. twiss97

    What's up, El Reg?

    Is it just me or is this publication devolving into a political opinion 'rag'?

    1. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: What's up, El Reg?

      It's you.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: What's up, El Reg?

      It's always had a penchant for the comic, even the tragi-comic.

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: What's up, El Reg?

      We are watching someone who's obviously read 1984 and watched Dr Strangelove work out their fantasies on the unsuspecting citizens of the USA.

      Newspeak is the order of the day in his world.

      America is at war with Eurasia (The Moslem part) and he'll invade Mexico just so that they'll pay for the wall.

      What's not to like eh?

      Now where is that ad for a Nuclear Bunker that was for sale??????

    4. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: What's up, El Reg?

      "Trump is a terrifying racist sex-case fruitloop with a lifelong personality disorder who is utterly unfit to run a whelk stall" isn't a political opinion, it's stone cold undeniable fact.

      I hope you get it before he vapourises us all.

      1. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: What's up, El Reg?

        I wish that I could upvote you more, "whelk stall" LOL

    5. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: What's up, El Reg?

      Compared with twenty years ago, issues around lousy IT security are far more mainstream and probably far more important. Over the long term, I'd expect El Reg to be covering more political stories. At the same time, US politics seems to be going through a terribly divisive period, so what stories do occur are likely to annoy one side or the other. Possibly something for the editors to keep an eye on.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's up, El Reg?

      Well, the comments certainly are - no matter what the subject.

    7. This post has been deleted by its author

    8. nijam

      Re: What's up, El Reg?

      > Is it just me or is this publication devolving into a political opinion 'rag'?

      Given that Trump supporters have made the truth into a political opinion, that's unavoidable.

  16. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Joke

    Douglas Adams nailed it

    Those who most want to rule people are ipso-facto those least suited for the job. If anyone is vain enough or stupid enough to get himself elected president, he must at all costs be prevented from wielding any real power. Thus, the president's job is to draw attention away from power.

    We clearly urgently need to find some harmless recluse with a cat he calls "The Lord"

    1. Franco Silver badge

      Re: Douglas Adams nailed it

      Billy Connolly phrased that as the desire to become a politician should automatically preclude you from ever being one.

    2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Douglas Adams nailed it

      In Terry Pratchett's version of Australia they locked up politicians as soon as they were elected to save time. With hindsight, it seems a perfectly reasonable suggestion.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Douglas Adams nailed it

      It's older than that: the Marx brothers but probably also Mark Twain, et al including Cicero. It's painfully obvious that those wishing to wield power are the least suited to doing. But, unfortunately, they're also usually very charismatic.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Douglas Adams nailed it

        And also the people with the actual skills to do the jobs. The talent, just not the temperament. So if you can't rely on politicians, whom can you rely?

  17. MotherGoose

    So his 'alternative facts' must be coming from his Android phone..............

  18. Palpy
    Happy

    Not to worry!

    Mr. Trump is well aware of the security implications of using Android. He knows a lot about hacking, he said so himself. And he never lies.

    OK, never mind. In the world of real, non-alternative facts, Trump's expertise appears to be about that of a typical grandad-with-a-smartphone. It's the job of his handlers to make sure he is using secure channels. Of course he has his cybersecurity czar Giuliani to consult... he of the woefully insecure website.

    Meta: El Reg is reporting here on matters concerning network and computer security; it seems to me this is within their journalistic purview.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Details please.

    Couldn't find anything, not here, not NYT.

    Please supply full details.

    Phone model, Android version, patch level, does it have no encryption, Android full device encryption, or Android file-level encryption.

    Otherwise without any of this, this is a total non-story

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Otherwise without any of this, this is a total non-story

      Why's that? The fact he tweets from an Android device makes him insecure whatever version of it he's using. Android's a bigger target than Windows now, there's millions of them and they all have much more personal information than your average Windows PC. And he's POTUS, surely worth a go for all kinds of crims.

      What's with the AC Trump support squad? Don't you want to be associated with your great leader?

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Details please.

      It's Android, it's a barn door.

    3. Andrew Jones 2

      Re: Details please.

      Android Central (I think) that ran this yesterday did a bit of sleuthing from the photos that are floating about showing him using the phone and have determined from the position of the "home" button and the position of the rear camera and the position of the microphone hole and the fact that Trump has apparently previously mentioned he uses a Samsung Galaxy - that his phone is in fact a Samsung Galaxy S3 - and as such - incredibly out of date and running Android - Ice Cream Sandwich.

  20. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    But not Facebook

    At least it's Twitter and not Facebook. I can just imagine the Department of Agriculture run to reflect Trump's YUGE success at playing Farmville.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: But not Facebook

      I can just imagine the Department of Agriculture run to reflect Trump's YUGE success at playing Farmville.

      Ooh, this could work!

      Department of Transport run along the lines of GTA3

      State Department as envisioned by Age of Empires

      Department of Defence done like Call Of Duty

      ...

  21. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    FAIL

    Oh dear!

    History (if we will have any) shows that this moron is (with the exception of Caligula) the most useless bastard ever to be in a position of power.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'not the most powerful man in the world'

    Can we discuss that a little? In the Reagan vs. Russia and the Clinton / Bush Jr years, it did feel like it was us versus the 'most powerful man in the world'.

    But now? Its become clear every POTUS is just a figurehead for special interests, and Trump is really just the result of a lacklustre Obama legacy as he failed to deliver on 'yes we can'.

    But nobody believes that Trump can fix anything, its only about moving pieces around on a gigantic chessboard. Its all sleight of hand etc....

    If Trump did really does go rogue expect him to be Kennedy'd out, or like with the park rangers this weak, expect his own people to defy him / isolate him.

    Honestly Bush Jr / Rummy worried me more. On Twitter you get to sound a lot mightier than you are. Whereas the reality of DC is its just a big set of cogs that turn slowly not a ME kingdom with tyrannical dictatorship machine.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: 'not the most powerful man in the world'

      Being fair to Obama, the US system stopped him from delivering, as it is designed to do. The Prez can do little without a majority in both houses of Congress, and the generally corrupt pork-barrel system means that wasn't going to happen. Unusually there is now a Prez whose nominal party does have Congress majorities, so he can, in theory, change things. Pity it's happened at a time when the Prez is quite a few olives short of a pizza.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        @Pen-y-gors -- Re: 'not the most powerful man in the world'

        Pity it's happened at a time when the Prez is quite a few olives short of a pizza.

        Nice! Have an upvote.

        Although the metaphor I was thinking was quite a few olives short of a martini...but yours will work fine.

  23. MSmith

    Trump doesn't tweet

    You do realize that that person that posts those tweets is not Donald Trump, right? It was covered early on in his campaign that he doesn't personally post those tweets. So, it makes sense that the same Android phone posting his tweets in the past is still posting them now. The NSA doesn't give secure phones to low-level twitter posters.

    1. phy445

      Re: Trump doesn't tweet

      Did you read the story?

      "The angry late-night tweets came from an Android phone, leading data analysts to conclude that they came from Trump himself. "

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Trump doesn't tweet

        "The angry late-night tweets came from an Android phone, leading data analysts to conclude that they came from Trump himself. "

        Conclusion? Leading data analysts? Maybe I'm missing something, but based on the criterion used it's nothing more than a guess.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Trump doesn't tweet

      Actually, no, I don't realize that and after over a year of Trump's tweets being front page news I think you are the first person to advance this particular defence within my earshot. (But as you can tell from my spelling, I'm a long way from the action.)

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. HausWolf

      Re: Trump doesn't tweet

      Is this the "alternative facts" version to explain his years of off the rails ramblings bordering on stupidity?

      You actually think a control freak like the sort fingered vulgarian is going to stop cold turkey?

    5. InNY

      Re: Trump doesn't tweet

      If Trumpelthinskin didn't approve of what was/is being tweeted in his name, wouldn't he put a stop to it? As he doesn't, and they carry his identifier, then they are, de facto, from him; whether he actually physically writes, dictates or approves them before broadcast.

  24. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    The phone doesn't matter

    Making political pronouncements via Twitter is simply cretinous: it privileges one media organisation over the rest.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Making political pronouncements via Twitter is simply cretinous

      Perhaps, but that is how you reach the cretins. I don't know that I'd classify Twitter as a news organization.

  25. RonWheeler

    A billionaire...

    and he hasn't been hacked already?

    1. Palpy
      Pint

      Re: ...And he hasn't been hacked already?

      He has. Or, rather, at least some of his business concerns have been. From back in April of last year:

      "For the second time in six months, the Trump hotel chain is dealing with an attack on its computer systems, potentially exposing information about its customers."

      Reffie: Money.cnn

      Opinion on Trump Organization server security:

      " A computer security expert finds that Trump Organization email servers use software that hasn’t had a security update in 13 years. The Trump Organization could be wide open to email attacks based on the findings of Kevin Beaumont, a cyber security expert and researcher."

      Reffie: RT.com back in October of last year.

      Beer because I need one. You can have one too.

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    He needs Mayor 911 to explain it all to him again.

    That's why you have a Cybersecurity Tsar.

  28. Someone Else Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Lock him up!

    After all, isn't that the Trump-supported penalty for using a non-sanctioned server for communications while holding federal office?

    Sauce. Goose. Gander. Fuckhead.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Lock him up!

      And make him pay for the jail.

  29. nijam

    > "... and these can easily look as if they come from a trusted source."

    How can anything Trump does look as if it comes from a trusted source? Just asking.

  30. JJKing Bronze badge
    Coat

    Drumpf doesn't have an iPhone?

    Not even Trump can use something that doesn't exist.

    Oh you silly people, the Orange Idiot is obviously using an Alternative iPhone.

    Mine's the one with the Alternative Pockets.

  31. Al Black

    Twitter is public

    "The New York Times reports that the USA's newly installed president is using his old phone mainly to post to Twitter rather than make calls." Twitter can be sent from anywhere, including internet cafes: the only security is the account password, regardless of the platform used. There are no secrets at risk here: everything he tweets is consumed by millions of Trump-watchers worldwide. Could the faux outrage about the insecure mobile phone be a sign of job insecurity among the Print Media as Trump by-passes them and goes direct to the public?

    1. Captain Badmouth
      FAIL

      Re: Twitter is public

      Why would the POTUS want an insecure mobile phone anywhere about his person?

      Does this make sense in any alternative reality?

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