Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Cellphones Security Communications Government Privacy Republicans United States

White House Weighs Personal Mobile Phone Ban For Staff (bloomberg.com) 113

The White House is considering banning its employees from using personal mobile phones while at work. While President Trump has been vocal about press leaks since taking office, one official said the potential change is driven by cybersecurity concerns. Bloomberg reports: One official said that there are too many devices connected to the campus wireless network and that personal phones aren't as secure as those issued by the federal government. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly -- whose personal phone was found to be compromised by hackers earlier this year -- is leading the push for a ban, another official said. The White House already takes precautions with personal wireless devices, including by requiring officials to leave phones in cubbies outside of meeting rooms where sensitive or classified information is discussed. Top officials haven't yet decided whether or when to impose the ban, and if it would apply to all staff in the executive office of the president. While some lower-level officials support a ban, others worry it could result in a series of disruptive unintended consequences.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

White House Weighs Personal Mobile Phone Ban For Staff

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 27, 2017 @06:23PM (#55633355)

    You're not allowed to bring your phone into a SCIF. Why in the hell should you be allowed to bring your personal device into the damn White House? Make the Executive Office of the President follow those same rules too.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      B...b...but President Trump said his SCIF has the best wireless connectivity! Way better than anyone else's SCIF!

    • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Monday November 27, 2017 @06:34PM (#55633435) Homepage

      Yeah, that's kind of my thought, too. I could understand a section of the White House being open for unsecured electronics, and a "official business" section being completely secured.

      The White House already takes precautions with personal wireless devices, including by requiring officials to leave phones in cubbies outside of meeting rooms where sensitive or classified information is discussed.

      "No electronics" is the standard practice for any classified space. I'd be extremely concerned if unsecured phones were allowed in classified meetings, but I can't really say I'd be surprised, considering this administration.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Trump won't follow rules or force his children to be subject to them, so this plan is doomed to failure like everything else this administration of traitors tries.

      • "No electronics" is the standard practice for any classified space. I'd be extremely concerned if unsecured phones were allowed in classified meetings, but I can't really say I'd be surprised

        #LockHerUp!!!!!1!@!~

      • Reason 1:
        https://www.krackattacks.com/ [krackattacks.com]

        Reason 2:
        https://www.armis.com/blueborn... [armis.com]

        Those are two fairly major vulnerabilities that worked at a wireless level. Some vendors got it fixed fairly quickly, a lot did not (especially Android vendors). I love my Android phone feature-wise, but the platform is completely fuckadoo in terms of updates, and various models often have lingering security issues or even ones that get completely abandoned/unpatched, making them not just a risk to

    • The president can do what he wants, SCIF or not..

      The rest of the staff need to follow the rules.

      Personally, I think that leaving your personal cell phone OUTSIDE the Whitehouse sounds like an excellent idea. Leave your personal electronics at home. Only allow the staff to carry or use government provided equipment in the building for work use, allowing limited personal use of official resources for things like taking calls from family.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The problem with that is this isn't the 1990s. People have lives and those lives involve connectivity.

        Honestly the biggest problem with private devices is cameras, and it would be appropriate to not allow them in rooms where classified material is of course. If that includes your private office, then go somewhere else to use your phone.

        Frankly, I'd rather people keep their personal stuff on personal devices and off of potentially sensitive computers, even if those computers are not on a classified network

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "People have lives and those lives involve connectivity." Too fucking bad, then you don't get in. This is a workplace, there are rules bitch!

        • by mikael ( 484 )

          You can get wallets for smartphones that cover up the camera lenses when not in use. The other risk is leaving the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity of the smartphone on. Then there's the fun with Bluetooth headphone headsets with microphones. But even the microphone of the smartphone can be used to determine keypresses on a keyboard. A thermal imaging camera for a smartphone can be used to read pincode keypresses.

        • > Total bans encourage workarounds and workarounds yield security breaches every single time.

          That's certainly very true. Neither of us said people SHOULD engage in workarounds, but they DO. The more that a security measure is a PITA, the more people don't follow it. Right or wrong. Especially powerful people who are accustomed to being able to do what they want, generally - they aren't accustomed to being treated like children. In business, CEOs break security protocols more than anyone else because

        • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Monday November 27, 2017 @08:17PM (#55634027)

          The problem with that is this isn't the 1990s. People have lives and those lives involve connectivity.

          And how the FUCK do you think the thousands of military personnel continue to survive while working in a SCIF during their entire work day?

          Honestly the biggest problem with private devices is cameras, and it would be appropriate to not allow them in rooms where classified material is of course. If that includes your private office, then go somewhere else to use your phone.

          Frankly, I'd rather people keep their personal stuff on personal devices and off of potentially sensitive computers, even if those computers are not on a classified network.

          They ought to have a monitored wifi connection for personal business, the monitoring being only for the presence of government information.

          Total bans encourage workarounds and workarounds yield security breaches every single time.

          Total bans are validated for just reasons. Much like the current rules that completely ban such devices within a SCIF. People need to understand that a personal cell phone is nothing more than a security breach waiting to happen. They are personal tracking and listening devices that are constantly being hacked. Those wanting actual security to be implemented and enforced don't see these devices any other way because they can't afford to. So a black and white approach to policy is the only effective solution.

          If people don't like those rules, find another fucking job elsewhere.

        • Kelly's phone was compromised in a way that could have allowed even the microphone to be captured. In fact, last I read any specifics about it, they couldn't say that it wasn't. He was essentially a walking bug.

          But, critical information can be derived from even seemingly innocuous sources. Just being able to use the accelerometer to be able to trace his movements within the White House could yield damaging information. I've seen some work where keycodes being punched into an entry keypad were decipherable f

        • by EndlessNameless ( 673105 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2017 @11:37AM (#55636731)

          Honestly the biggest problem with private devices is cameras, and it would be appropriate to not allow them in rooms where classified material is of course.

          OK, so we can be fairly confident that you do not work in an infosec capacity. Unmanaged devices are an unmitigated nightmare for a variety of reasons.

          Possession of a personal device leads to a tendency to use it, and that includes conducting official business on it. Or discussing official matters in an unofficial context. Due to piss poor manufacturer support, consumer Android phones often run outdated, unpatched software. Let's not forget that both Apple and Google have pulled malicious software from their stores, and users can link up to all kinds of remote or cloud services on devices they own.

          The biggest problem is the fact that a compromised phone can be running an open mic all the time. Unlike the camera, a mic is fully functional even when the device is stowed in a pocket---which is where most phones spend the majority of their time. Running the mic also has less of an impact on battery life than the camera, so the user is unlikely to notice a problem with the device.

          They ought to have a monitored wifi connection for personal business, the monitoring being only for the presence of government information.

          This is hopelessly naive. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to identify content on the fly? And what about encryption (almost everything uses it these days)? The kind of monitoring you suggest is bordering on the impossible.

          Total bans encourage workarounds and workarounds yield security breaches every single time.

          When the ban is backed up by immediate termination and possible criminal charges, it tends to be far more effective.

          The only reason that "workarounds" are popular is because private companies rarely enforce their policies, especially against high-ranking personnel. Enforcing policies pretty much kills this habit, at least after the first couple of terminations.

          People routinely do far more unpleasant things than locking up their phones for the day---when the business forces them to.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "The president can do what he wants, SCIF or not.." Bullshit, you're drinking the Trump branded prison koolaid.

        • "The president can do what he wants, SCIF or not.." Bullshit, you're drinking the Trump branded prison koolaid.

          No, it's the harsh reality that anything classified is so designated by the president's authority (within the limits of the law). The president can declassify anything at any time, because it is under HIS (or her) authority to do so. You can argue the wisdom of a president doing this, but you cannot argue that the president breaks the law when they disclose classified information.

          The president can violate ANY of the rules regarding protection of classified information with impunity. THIS is what I'm sayi

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        Leave your personal electronics at home.

        And use what during the commute to and from work?

      • The president can do what he wants, SCIF or not..

        The rest of the staff need to follow the rules.

        NO he can't, the president is subject to many of the same rules as everyone else, yes he may get a pass for some shit but he doesn't exist outside the law and yes their are LAWS when dealing with classified information.

        • The president can do what he wants, SCIF or not..

          The rest of the staff need to follow the rules.

          NO he can't, the president is subject to many of the same rules as everyone else, yes he may get a pass for some shit but he doesn't exist outside the law and yes their are LAWS when dealing with classified information.

          A president can legally declassify anything they wish with impunity. It is under their authority that stuff gets classified in the first place, so they can choose to declassify anything anytime they wish. You can argue that it was a bad idea to disclose classified information, but you cannot argue that the president violated the law.

    • by mccalli ( 323026 )
      SCIF = Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, for those like me who just had to look the term up.
    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Won't do any good, Trump's loose mouth knows no boundaries. The Israelis are still pissed he compromised some of their "assets" in Syria to the Russians, his owners. That doofus cannot recall which information is security related and which isn't.

    • Because the security level of different areas of the building varies wildly and it would be unreasonable to make tourists or members of the press hand over their phones at the door?

      That said, I agree. If you enter the secure areas, your phone shouldn't be coming along. Put stingers, jammers, and faraday cages all over the place just in case.

  • Rather than banning phones how about mandating an official Trump admin phone, like the Dethklok's Dethphone

    http://dethklok.wikia.com/wiki... [wikia.com]

    It'd be pretty brütal

    • I don't know if we could afford it. Those things are designed to eat minutes.

      Might be worth arming the Secret Service with them though.

  • how about a ban on tweeting while at work!?

    • Naw.. Not going to happen...

      Twitter is now a PR tool used to set the media's heads collectively spinning on the topic of the Twitter Chief's choice. He's not going to give up that kind of control of the national debate.

      • Twitter is now a PR tool used to set the media's heads collectively spinning on the topic of the Twitter Chief's choice

        Along with the rest of us. He's not attacking the "media elites" to champion we the people. He's attacking most of us daily, the tweets are just insult to injury.

        • I suppose you could look at it that way, but I figure his motives for Tweeting are a bit less about tweaking you and more about blowing off steam.

          He's not targeting "the people" or even "you people" with his tweets, he's expressing himself and how he feels about things raw, unfiltered and uniquely Trump. So his "fake news" theme is more about how he sees things than a political calculation, focus group tested short message designed to convert his detractors to his side. It's really how he sees things, wh

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        I'm not sure Twitter is the problem exactly. In some ways it's a great tool to use against him, because there is always a prior tweet contradicting whatever he says today. Some have even been used in court (e.g. the travel ban). The real problem is that even when it is pointed out that he is lying or contradicting himself, people don't care.

        We have to convince people that not everything is a lie. We have to convince them that it's okay to admit they made a bad choice.

  • Slow Clap (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "The White House already takes precautions with personal wireless devices, including by requiring officials to leave phones in cubbies outside of meeting rooms where sensitive or classified information is discussed."

    A year in, they're finally following the most basic rules for handling classified information. Next year they can tackle blurting out source level hum-int to top level officials of hostile foreign governments. Maybe by the end of the term we'll get a complete coherent sentence...you know...milli

    • I'm hoping in 10 years time, the administration fills all the open positions that they need to fill but I know that's crazy talk.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by omnichad ( 1198475 )

        Considering how they've filled the positions that were filled, I think we're better off leaving as many posts empty as possible.

        • Well most of the open spots are for normal everyday jobs that someone has to do. But they're not important other than to keep the country running.
    • Yea, finally *somebody* realizes that this is a serious problem. I mean we've had cell phones for how long now? A couple of decades?

      Interesting that it's Trump that first comes to this conclusion, isn't it?

      • Interesting that it's Trump that first comes to this conclusion, isn't it?

        What's interesting is that he comes to this conclusion rather than vetting White House staff and officials and considering not hiring people who lie on their security clearance forms.

        If you'd like, I could list the names of those people Trump hired who lied on their security clearance forms.

        • If you'd like, I could list the names of those people Trump hired who lied on their security clearance forms.

          How about if you list the ones who didn't lie. It's a (very) short list.

  • by AlanObject ( 3603453 ) on Monday November 27, 2017 @06:38PM (#55633491)

    My understanding is that many of the WH workers all the way to the top use private e-mail and are probably handling classified documents that way. Just like in the GWB days when the RNC provided the e-mail servers.

    Of course I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that. After all there is no Clinton involved in it so who cares. I am just pointing out that if you are concerned about leaks personal e-mail has to be at least as big a threat any personal phones.

  • LOL like what? Maybe getting some effing work done?
  • If anyone's going to hate this, it's going to be Trump himself.

    • by Scaba ( 183684 )
      Once Putin hears about this, he'll create a rule that exempts the president from the rule
  • Nothing is stopping any of the WhiteHouse staff from leaking things while at home, on the bus, etc. And this ban doesn't cover their computer at the office. They can probably access any social network, send emailed documents to whoever with that. Or they could just meet in person with a reporter if they want it to be harder to trace.

    The only thing this ban might prevent is photos or video recordings of classified material in a classified meeting. It can't stop a person from talking about it later though.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Well, it may have a bit of cooling-off effect like a waiting period for purchasing a handgun.

      Every administration leaks; both intentionally with planted leaks and as part of political infighting. This is why despite administrations always complaining about it it is almost never pursued to the point of prosecution. In general people who make it to that level have a lot of political experience and while they disagree with each other, don't want to see the administration actually damaged. So they're circum

  • Usually that kind of good idea is impossible to enforce on leaders. I wonder if the ban will be enforced for Trump himself.
  • The cone of silence.

Matter will be damaged in direct proportion to its value.

Working...