Thursday, January 22, 2009

SIGINT Agencies (and Hackers) of the World Unite...

...President Obama is keeping his BlackBerry. As the AP reports:

The first family settled into their new lives in the White House on Thursday as President Barack Obama won an important personal victory: He gets to keep his BlackBerry.

Obama will be the first sitting president to use e-mail, and he has been reluctant to part with his ever-present handheld device. Its use will be limited to keeping in touch with senior staff and personal friends, said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.


"...the BlackBerry victory is a big concession. Obama said earlier that he was working with the Secret Service, lawyers and White House staff to keep the device.

Gibbs said the president will limit its use, and security has been enhanced to ensure that Obama can communicate in a way that's protected. Only a small number of senior staff members and personal friends would be given his e-mail address.

Previous presidents chose not to use e-mail because it can be subpoenaed by Congress and courts and may be subject to public records laws. And Gibbs said the presumption from the White House counsel's office is that Obama's e-mails will be subject to the Presidential Records Act, which requires the National Archives to preserve presidential records.

But he also said there are exceptions for "strictly personal communications."

There's no mention of potential monitoring by hostile intelligence service, or attacks by computer hackers in the AP article. However, this account by the Atlantic's Marc
Ambinder claims that Obama will carry a Blackberry with a "super encryption" package, probably developed by the National Security Agency.

Other source suggest that the agency has created a more secure pathway for Obama's Blackberry traffic. E-mails from the commercial version of the PDA move across a server in Canada, raising more fears about potential intelligence collection.

A White House spokesman says that Obama's BlackBerry will be used for "limited" communications with senior aides and a few close friends. However, there has been no confirmation that the President will "step up" to the most secure PDA, the General Dynamics Sectera Edge, a device that's been approved by the NSA for Top Secret voice communications and the transmission of data (including e-mails) at the Secret level.

As for his beloved Blackberry, the Department of Homeland Security lists at least 14 vulnerabilities for the device, and some experts still worry about the PDA's security, despite the NSA upgrade.

We'll make a prediction: Mr. Obama will retain his BlackBerry until one of three events occurs: 1) His PDA communications becomes public; 2) They are subpoenaed as part of an investigation, or 3) the NSA Director quietly informs him of a security breach that has allowed foreign intelligence agencies to monitor his conversations and e-mail transmissions. At that point, the President will suddenly "retire" his BlackBerry.

H/T: ZDnet


Ed Rasimus said...

The naivete of this adolescent is incredible. The ignorance of the booboisie has elevated him to the Presidency. He fails to recognize the availability of truly secure communications at his fingertips, nor to note the sensitivity of his every thought.

Who is going to call him? Who does he need to call on that thing? Who does he want to email or text? Is Michelle going to remind him to pick up a half gallon of milk on the way upstairs from the office?

This is simply stupid, egotistical behavior--not totally unexpected.

kitanis said...

Well Ed.

What do you expect.. I just spent the day going to various job interviews and other places...

I saw a T-Shirt being sold that makes Obama look like he is Superman. A Poster that showed Obama sitting at a desk reading the same blackberry.

Now he gets to keep it.. and he can email friends etc.. I wonder how much the NSA is going to spend making his single device usable.

The man has been appointed to Godhood.. and the Blackberry story is being treated like he is putting one over on the establishment by the press.

I am with you on this one but somehow the mainstream dose not care

Mrs. Davis said...

You forgot

4. Blackberry is used for targeting PGM that kills everyone in its vicinity.

lgude said...

I guess I'm a geek on this one and wanted Dubya to find a way to keep using email. I think he may develop social media as part of his use of the Bully Pulpit. FDR used radio in 29 when governor of NY for fireside chats. Early adopter that guy. I'm not certain the Blackberry is entirely necessary, or secure, but if that is the way he works - so be it. We'll find out if any of those three events occur.