(The Sectera Edge smart phone, from General Dynamics and certified by NSA, can be used for TOP SECRET-classed voice calls as well as e-mail.)
But do Obama's "routine and personal messages" -- presumably to longtime friends and colleagues outside of his administration and outside the U.S. government as a whole, which is the group he's repeatedly expressed interesting in communicating with "outside the bubble" -- need to be classified as TOP SECRET, or even SECRET?
"Perhaps the NSA and U.S. telecommunications companies have created a special, more secure digital pathway for Obama's messages to travel on, one that would resist the inevitable penetration attempts by foreign governments," Ambinder writes.
It's not clear what Ambinder means by a "more secure digital pathway" beyond the special encryption package he referenced earlier. One possibility might be a special radio frequency.
NSA clearly knows how to securely encrypt government communications. But, again, if Obama wants to communicate with "ordinary folk," nothing is lost if a hacker or even a foreign government penetrates e-mails such as "How 'bout those Cubs!" or "Do you think that shade of yellow is Michelle's color?"
But greater openness, even when the intent is to limit that openness to a specific group of non-government acquaintances, makes a standard smart phone more vulnerable to being injected with malicious code. Once installed, without other protections, the code in theory could be written to take over various functions, such as turning on a speaker phone to record conversations, transmitting contacts and phones lists, identifying the GPS coordinates of the phone and therefore of its user, in this case, the president.
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