Over the past few days, some of the biggest questions about our national cybersecurity have centered on one device: President Donald Trump’s phone.Â
Shortly after he reportedly traded in his main Twitter machine, an old-model, unsecured Android phone, for a “secure, encrypted device approved by the Secret Service,” the famously tech averse executive appeared to still be using the unsecured device. This made waves in intelligence and security circles, as the risks of the president of the United States using a potentially vulnerable device are extensive. Â Â Â
We know about Trump’s Android fixation â but what about the specialized presidential handset he might be stiffing?
According to an exclusive report from Defense One, that device is a modified Boeing Black, a super secure Android device for Top Secret data designed to self-destruct at the first sign of tampering. The presidential model was developed by Boeing and the Defense Department Information SystemsÂ Agency (DISA) and âgoes with the office,â per DISA officials speaking to Defense One on background.
The phone has limited functionality, opting instead for a locked-down, heavily encrypted user experience. When Boeing filed plans for the Black with the FCC in 2014, the device supported two SIM cards and functionality on GSM, WCDMA and LTE networks, along with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities.Â
According to statements made by DISA chief Lt. General Alan Lynn, the presidential version of the Black “has a large amount of encryption tied to it” and is âclose to a VDI,â or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. This means the phone acts more like an extended viewer of another device, displaying the data kept there rather than storing any potentially vulnerable information itself.Â
Defense One‘s sources claim that two of the secure devices were in the hands of high-level personnel, then-President Obama and Cyber Command head Admiral Mike Rogers. It’s not a stretch to imagine its the device that Obama described as a toy phone in an interview with Jimmy Fallon (jump to the 2:30 mark in the clip).
If President Trump is in fact still tweeting from a personal device (as evidence from his timeline and reports seem to corroborate), it’s unlikely he has adopted the Boeing Black full time. After all, that type of secure system won’t run Twitter â and the president has made it clear he will continue using the platform no matter what, even if he destroys it. Â
Maybe that’s the only way to get Trump on a secure network: If you can find a way to support Twitter, he might just pick it up.