White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s personal cell phone may have been compromised. U.S. government officials told Politico that Kelly turned his phone in to White House tech support this summer, complaining about faulty software updates. After reviewing the phone and finding many functions not working, IT concluded that the device was compromised and should not be used further.
A one-page September memo about the incident then circulated throughout the administration, causing concern over what information might have been exposed. The breach may have originated as far back as December, when Kelly was Secretary of Homeland Security. Additional storage lockers have been added to the West Wing for the staff’s personal devices; aides have also been briefed to limit personal cell phone use while in the White House.
The revelation comes amid an internal White House probe over private email servers and a changed global landscape defined by cyber-warfare. Petty office politics are now blockbuster spectacles, and technical mishaps matters of national security. A malfunctioning cell phone may seem comical, but we’d be wise to remember how last year’s DNC hacks crippled Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, spawning murder conspiracies, FBI investigations, and a shift in world power. New cyber-attacks aimed at White House leaders further erodes the executive branch’s legitimacy and American hegemony as a whole.