Senators want to know more about Trump's new secure smartphone

And, given recent highly-publicized security mishaps, the senators want to know if he even uses it.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

(Image: file photo)

Two senators on the Homeland Security committee want to know more about President Trump's government-issued secure smartphone -- and if he's even using it.

Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Tom Carper (D-DE), asked the government's Defense Information Systems Agency, currently headed by Pentagon chief Gen. James Mattis and charged with helping to secure the president's communications, if Trump was served a secured smartphone, and details of the device.

The senators also want to know what steps the department took to lock down the device.

It comes just a couple of weeks after The New York Times reported that Trump still uses his "old, unsecured Android phone," despite being given a secure handset for personal communications.

Further investigation pointed to Trump's use of a Samsung Galaxy S3, a four-year old phone known to have numerous and serious security vulnerabilities -- including the high-profile Stagefright bug -- worrying security professionals.

The senators said Trump's use of a personal phone would be "troubling" if true, because "security risks associated with the use of an unsecured phone include hackers' ability to access the device to turn on audio recording and camera features, as well as engaging surveillance tools that allow location and other information tracking features."

They added that the the "national security risks of compromising a smartphone used by a senior government official, such as the President of the United States, are considerable."

The letter was dated February 9, but released Monday, hours after yet another highly-publicized security incident, which resulted in the president and his staff reading classified briefing notes on North Korea's recent missile launch over dinner in a public restaurant, some of which used their cell phone's flash light to illuminate the papers.

Security experts lambasted the practice, calling the entire event "jeopardizing" to national security.

Renowned security professor Matt Blaze described it as "risky as having an email server," referring to Trump's criticism of his presidential contender Hillary Clinton's use of a private email system during her time as secretary of state.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA, 33rd), a computer science major, said in a tweet that he found the event "highly disturbing."

It's the latest in a string of security issues by White House staff since the new president took office in January.

The senators asked Mattis to respond by March 9.

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