Mobile phones are inherently insecure, which may come as a surprise to British politicians | Burglary | Techy Kings


It is no longer news to note that a cell phone, if hacked, can be the ultimate surveillance tool. But the question is whether this is a surprise to British politicians – and whether they are using their devices wisely or carelessly.

We will almost certainly never know exactly what happened to Liz Truss’s phone. The then foreign secretary had to abruptly ditch her main phone number in favor of a new government-issued handset over the summer, just as it emerged she is likely to be the next prime minister after Boris Johnson.

Political insiders say Russian actors are feared to have hacked the politician’s phone, although the security community is said to be less sure what happened even now, three months on. The consensus was that Truss had to quickly change his top number in the summer, such was the anxiety in Whitehall.

But it comes after a series of similar concerns about the security of ministers’ mobile phones, most notably that Boris Johnson’s phone number was freely available online for 15 years and that UAE forensic experts accused Downing Street and the Foreign Office of trying to hack phones, a claim both Dabi denies.

The reality is that a mobile phone is inherently insecure, but like anyone else, a politician will want to and indeed have to use it. So the question is: What information is shared via a politician’s cell phone and how sensitive is it?

Ministers are given a security briefing when they take office and are told they can be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act if they transmit highly classified information via a mobile device or any other means.

But they are not forced to give up their personal phones: a more secure, government phone can be provided, although it may take some time for some ministers, including Johnson, to be awarded the old phone from them.

On the other hand, it’s unlikely that Truss was careless enough to share classified or top secret documents on his phone. A former Whitehall insider said that breaking the rules would mean she would have to “carry out incredibly complex handovers” or have someone else do it for her.

But other ministers have done stupid things. To personal e-mail email account belonging to former trade minister Liam Fox in 2019. repeatedly hacked by Russians who later stole classified documents related to US-UK trade negotiations – a reminder of Suella Braverman’s recent reckless use of her personal email account could be.

During the security alarm, there was concern surrounding Truss’ phone that her WhatsApp messages – possibly months old – had been compromised. Some of this is likely to be Cabinet gossip, conversations with colleagues and allies, or other insider material on the workings of government.

In confidential state business, many things can be irrelevant. But former national security adviser Peter Ricketts describes it as material in a “problem area” because it is “not highly classified but could be quite sensitive”.

Controversy at the center of government can be interesting to spying eyes, especially if it involves foreign or defense policy, as can dealings with foreign leaders.

The reality, says Ricketts, is that ministers need to use their mobile phones and personal emails wisely. email addresses and that they have no shortage of official guidance on how to do this. It is less clear whether ministers will pay attention.


Source link