'No updates': hackers may have 'compromised' White House staff chief's iPhone camera and mic


In the midst of the constant barrage of news from the White House in the last year or so, one might have missed the nugget that the personal handset of the new White House chief of staff John Kelly may have been "compromised". That's an euphemism for "someone is reading my emails and messages and I'm just noticing because my iPhone never applies software updates."

After becoming chief of staff, Mr Kelly reportedly took his iPhone to the IT security staffers of the West Wing, and they found out that the handset may have been hacked for months (while John Kelly was still a secretary of Homeland Security). The worst case scenario is that the potential hackers may have gained "full access" to the camera and mic, and recorded what was going on around Mr Kelly at important meetings. 

"Many functions on the phone were not working. The IT department concluded the phone had been compromised and should not be used further, according to the memo." The silver lining in all of this is that the chief of staff has been given a secure phone when he joined the West Wing crowd, and hasn't been using his personal phone "often," said the White House spokesperson. White House officials now believe that John Kelly's phone may have been hacked in the Trump administration's Washington transition headquarters way back in December of last year.

source: Politico

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26 Comments

1. Scott93274

Posts: 6033; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Let this be a lesson to everyone. There is no such thing as a safe and secure phone.

8. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

uhhhh he probably wasn't on the latest version of iOS smh /s

11. SIGPRO

Posts: 2817; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

Doesn't matter! It is not as safe like apple wanted it to be.

26. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

You know this "/s" means sarcasm right? Lol nothing is as safe as we want it to be.

16. tedkord

Posts: 17357; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Of course he wasn't, the hack was preventing updates. But, he likely was when it was hacked.

2. samgsam

Posts: 148; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

Most secure mobile OS in the world? Lol

3. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Show us any safer OS There is no such thing as unbreakable software but at least Apple acts quickly. Recently when vulneralibity on macOS was discovered not even entire day passed and there was a software update which fixed this. I'd like you to put money where your mouth is and show such case with other OS

4. Scott93274

Posts: 6033; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

I will argue your case that Apple reacts fast to security threats to its platform. They sat on their hands for 6 months and did nothing when they were informed of a security flaw that allowed people to forcibly gain access to personal accounts on Apple's cloud services. ... 6 months... And because of that, thousands of personal and highly sensitive images of Apple users were leaked online for all the world to see, all because they refused to take a serious security flaw.... seriously.

5. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

14. HansP

Posts: 542; Member since: Oct 16, 2011

Yeah, I'd argue that Samsung's Knox is safer that what Apple uses. This rootkit hack on an iPhone owned by a person with access to some of the most critical classified information in the world ought to support that.

19. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

He never said their was. He was parroting what fans normally say and what Apple claims at every keynote. Granted and in fairness, his phone hadn't been updated for a while. That's his fault though. So much for iOS uers are the smartest people on the planet. Not even smart enough to keep a "personal" phone updated.

21. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

STFU Techie. Always trying to insult a group of people based on one individual's pitfall; classic, and tasteless, as always.

6. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

This should be a lesson for those that are saying the updates are not worth it. I'm sure not even .1% of smartphone users are going to be targeted by hackers (why should they hack John Doe's phone?) and are ok even when using 1-2y old software, but that goes to show what could be happening.

7. AxelFoley unregistered

It shows the importance of security patches and fixing vulnerabilities, which for many, come monthly regardless of wholesale software updates.

17. tedkord

Posts: 17357; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

They infect John Doe's PC, so why not his phone? Malware is a numbers game.

20. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

Normal people are rarely if ever hacked. There has been no confirmed evidence that everyday people are ever or have been hacked. He isn't a normal person. He works for the gov't. So thus someone in that capacity, should have known better as they are prime targets. Trust me no one is trying to hack your phone to see your boring pictures and you text messages of love or hate. I'm not talking about "you". Its just a general "you" a sin everyone with a phone.

24. tedkord

Posts: 17357; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Malware is very widespread. If it weren't, there would be no need for firewalls and antivirus.

25. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

There are tons of evidences both in Android and iOS.

9. Cat97

Posts: 1893; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

As long as a phone has a connection to the Internet, it's not completely secure. Many vulnerabilities are long known by hackers before being noticed and fixed by the "good people". It's just a matter of profit. If you are a regular Joe, it is not profitable for someone to target you. If you are a high-level White House representative...than it may be profitable for (let's say Russians) to spend time dealing with your phone.

13. bucky

Posts: 3785; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

I was just about to say this. Nothing is safe if there a signal of some sort to the outside world.

10. Phantom1031

Posts: 264; Member since: Aug 02, 2014

But his phone was special as written by the writer and it was a secure phone, if that has been hacked so what is the difference between my phone and his phone

12. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1421; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

Secure in regards of what access they have to apply changes to the phone. Usually it means that they simply restrict the amount of apps available and prohibit the installation of additional apps through an app store. At least that's how it's usually applied to iPhones, Android phones however allow for much more adaption to software and firmware to increase security. Secure Android phones usually use a significantly adapted version of Android, more security added in, more restrictions placed and so on. The most concerning bit about the story should be that the hack seems to have occurred without Kelly really noticing until he could no longer install updates. Odds are he rarely left it unattended, so the hack would've been done remotely, which suggests iOS has a nasty vulnerability to it.

15. mikehunta727 unregistered

Seems like someone got hands on with the phone and activated the profile without him knowing for apps and OS updates to not come through

23. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1421; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

Or it was hacked remotely, which seems more likely.

18. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3137; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

He should've asked for Obama's old BlackBerry 8800.

22. Scott93274

Posts: 6033; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Obama wanted to use his iPhone, but the Secret Service told him no, it was not secure enough... Makes you wonder if Trump's Twitter phone is hacked, and he's just not smart enough to notice anything "funny" going on with it... Old people and technology... SMH...

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