According to a Washington Examiner investigation, President Trump’s Twitter account is vulnerable to getting hacked by a foreign power or other adversaries. When Trump logs in to his Twitter feed, an authentication code is sent via a text message to a senior aide’s smartphone, a step that could let for an identical type of intrusion as last week’s hack of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
However, while Dorsey’s Twitter account spewed racism for 18 minutes, the stakes are much higher for Trump, whose feed can shake markets and threaten world peace. “A hack of this President’s Twitter account would be especially dangerous because the world would have a hard time recognizing it as such,” said Ned Price, who’s a White House National Security Council aide under President Barack Obama.
Security for Trump’s @realdonaldtrump feed was explained to the Washington Examiner by a source with great knowledge. The source said the fact that the aide’s number is private, along with security offered by Verizon, should prevent hacking, though some experts say a dedicated adversary, such as China or Russia, might well be able to overcome those hurdles with ease.
Dorsey’s account hack was the result of a “SIM swap,” a tactic where a hacker persuades a smartphone corporate to send a victim’s phone number to their device. The first step would be knowing the Trump aide’s phone number. Then, the attacker must trick Verizon.
White House technology staff have roughly 10,000 smartphone lines provided by Verizon. They aren’t registered with the smartphone corporate to specific employees. Devices assigned to Trump and close aides are rotated regularly for security, and few people are authorized to modify the account.
Trump uses two phones: one that can place calls, and a second for Twitter. The revelation of Trump’s relatively secure internet-enabled “Twitter phone” was first reported last year in what insiders saw as a malicious leak by disgruntled staff. “On the government phones, there is no way Verizon would ever change the account information from a request from anyone, including Dan,” the source said. “There was only a handful of [staff] that were authorized to make account changes, just for situations like this.”