When President Trump makes his nightly pillow talk calls to Sean Hannity and other pals or handles government business on his personal cell phone, is he being stung by a Stingray?
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The Stingray that may be tracking Trump isn’t a fish which is related to a shark or a model of the Chevy Corvette but rather a sophisticated surveillance technological device known to professional spies as an IMSI catcher.
It is a standard tool used by everyone from domestic police agencies to foreign intelligence services such as the spy agencies run by Russia and China to surreptitiously capture cell phone calls and texts, and in some cases deliver spyware into a phone.
Today there is a report that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has confirmed to Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) that a federal study done in the past year has shown there are Stingray devices operating near the White House and other sensitive locations in Washington, D.C.
Wyden had asked Homeland Security in a May 23 letter for a more detailed and aggressive response to his concerns about cell phone insecurity that makes it possible, even easy, for someone to steal these electronic communications.
His request came at the same time there were articles about President Trump using a couple of cell phones for many of his business, government and personal his calls but flouting technical conventions that might make the devices more secure – because he considered it inconvenient.
The President, Politico reported on May 21, “uses a White House cellphone that isn’t equipped with sophisticated security features designed to shield his communications, according to two senior administration officials — a departure from the practice of his predecessors that potentially exposes him to hacking or surveillance.’
“The president, who relies on cell phones to reach his friends and millions of Twitter followers,” added Politico, “has rebuffed staff efforts to strengthen security around his phone use, according to the administration officials.”
Oddly, Trump denounced Secretary Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign for her use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State that could be hacked by the Chinese or others, he declared in June 2016, “putting all of America and our citizens in danger, great danger.”
“It’s baffling that Trump isn’t taking baseline cybersecurity measures at a time when he is trying to negotiate his way out of a trade war with China, a country that is known for using cyber tactics to gain the upper hand in business negotiations,” Samm Sacks, a China and technology expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Politico.
Now with evidence that there are Stingrays all around the White House which can mimic a cell phone tower and fool a cell phone into connecting. Trumps refusal to swap out his cell phones frequently or observe other security practices makes him far worse than Secretary Clinton, who didn’t realize the dangers until it was too late and she had been hacked.
And Trump, for that, all during the campaign led chants against Clinton of “Lock her up.”
And the Stingray isn’t the only way cell phones are being secretly intercepted.
DHS is also aware of SS&, a global cellular network messaging system, that can intercept calls anywhere in the world, by itself or along with Stingrays.
ESD America, a Las Vegas defense and law enforcement technology contractor, confirmed to The Washington Post that it had conducted tests for a private client showing Stingrays in use throughout the Washington area.
Now with the Homeland Security revelation, Wyden is demanding more answers and better security.
“This admission from DHS bolsters my concern about stingrays and other spying devices being used to spy on Americans’ phones,” Wyden said yesterday.
“Given the reports of rogue spying devices being identified near the White House and other government facilities,” added Wyden, “I fear that foreign intelligence services could target the president and other senior officials.”
It seems likely they may already be doing so, listening in as the president swaps stories with his pals, discusses sensitive matters with his cabinet officers and even talks to family members about confidential matters which could compromise him.
These are real concerns that put the security of the U.S. at stake and there is no excuse for Trump not to be following every possible security protocol to avoid leaking government secrets.
How do we know that when he gets to Singapore to meet with Kim Jong-un, if that actually happens, that the North Koreans will not already know his strategy, his secret plans, his real intentions because they have been spying on him and capturing his cell calls?
We don’t and may never know the truth but we do know the North Koreans have used sophisticated communications and computer hacks in the past, and are not above doing it again.
Trump himself once said, “No computer is safe. I don’t care what they say.”
But now he will not listen to his own advice.
Once again Trump is acting like his own security advisor, but the problem is that he has a fool for a client, and that is a real and current danger for everyone in the free world.