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The real reason why Trump using an old Android phone should freak you out

Published Jan 26th, 2017 7:14PM EST
Donald Trump's Android Phone Security
Image: Evan Vucci/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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President Donald Trump is still using his old Android phone, a new report revealed, even if he’s not supposed to do it. The device is believed to an unsecured handset that poses a severe security risk. Trump did receive a brand new handset before taking office, and a new phone number. But the fact that he still uses his old Android handset is troublesome. A security expert highlighted the real reason why Trump’s Android phone is a massive risk for the president.

It’s not the fact hackers could grab data from his device, believed to be a Galaxy S3, or access sensitive email contents — Trump might not even be using those smartphone features.

Far more concerning is that the microphone of the handset could be hijacked and activated without the user — in this case Trump — knowing anything about it.

“I’m not concerned about the data. Anything he reads on that screen is coming from the insecure network that we all use, and any e-mails, texts, Tweets, and whatever are going out to that same network,” cryptography expert Bruce Schneier wrote.

“But this is a consumer device, and it’s going to have security vulnerabilities. He’s at risk from everybody, ranging from lone hackers to the better-funded intelligence agencies of the world. And while the risk of a forged e-mail is real — it could easily move the stock market — the bigger risk is eavesdropping. That Android has a microphone, which means that it can be turned into a room bug without anyone’s knowledge. That’s my real fear.”

Schneier is a “widely respected” cryptographer, Business Insider says, and he’s better versed in the “cyber” than Trump will ever be.

In case you don’t think that an Android device can be used for such purposes, then you need to see this video of a student silently capturing all data from an Android phone someone stole from him, complete with microphone and camera access.

And that’s just a regular person doing that with a phone. Sure, it’s not a hacked device — the software was preinstalled on it. But someone could do something similar by remotely hacking a phone. In fact, a recent report revealed that Russia conducted a sophisticated cyber attack against the Ukrainian army, turning Android devices used by artillerymen for targeting into GPS trackers that would signal any troop movements. By the way, it’s believed the same hackers who attacked Ukraine are also responsible for the cyber hits on the Democrats last summer.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.