The White House is weighing whether to ban employees from using their own mobile phones at work, Bloomberg News reported Monday, citing seven Trump administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
White House staffers could be relegating to using government-issued cellphones with limited capabilities while on the job, the report said, effectively restricting their communications outside of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue but also lessening their odds of spurring a security breach.
Notwithstanding President Trump’s animosity toward leaks, the proposal is primarily driven by cybersecurity concerns rather than unauthorized disclosures, the officials said.
The White House already limits the usage of personal devices and prohibits staffers from bringing them into rooms where sensitive information is discussed, among other precautions, Bloomberg reported.
Personal devices could become compromised outside of the White House, however, and then potentially exploited once they return to the premises.
Phones issued by the White House are hardened by the government and aren’t able to send text messages, Bloomberg reported. White House computers already ban certain popular websites including Gmail, so staffers wanting to reach friends and family regularly use their personal devices to communicate from work, the report said.
Indeed, one of the Trump administration officials who confirmed the proposal said that a particular cause for concern was the multitude of mobile devices routinely connected to the White House’s wireless network: a personal phone could be infected outside of the White House, then hijacked once it reenters the building and used to surreptitiously collect and transmit sensitive data.
The ban on personal devices within the White House is being spearheaded by Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, one of the administration officials told Bloomberg. Mr. Kelly’s personal cell phone was compromised for several months earlier this year, Politico reported last month.
The White House did not immediately return an email seeking comment.