Chinese and Russian spies routinely eavesdrop on personal phone calls President Trump makes on his iPhones, one of which is no different from the smartphone millions of other people use. The US president’s casual approach to electronic security has several current and former officials so frustrated they leaked the details to The New York Times, which reported on the phone interceptions Wednesday evening.
Trump, Wednesday’s article reported, has two official iPhones that have been altered by the National Security Agency to limit the types of hacks they’re susceptible to. The president has a third iPhone with no modifications that he uses as a personal device, because unlike the official iPhones, he can store personal contacts on it. What’s more, while Trump is supposed to swap out his two official phones every 30 days for new ones, he rarely does. Trump did agree to give up his Android phone, which most security experts believe is more vulnerable than Apple’s iOS, and Trump has also agreed to the more cumbersome arrangement of having the two official iPhones. One is for Twitter and other apps, while the other handles calls.
Still, when Trump uses the cell phones to call friends, Chinese spies often listen in hopes of gaining insights about how to influence him on the long-simmering issue of trade. Russian spies also routinely eavesdrop on Trump’s calls, although the Russian spies don’t appear to be running as sophisticated an influence campaign as their Chinese counterparts. Aides have repeatedly warned the president that cell phone calls are especially susceptible to monitoring by adversaries. The aides have pressured him to use landlines instead, but he has refused to give up his devices.
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