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Are 'Throw Away' Phones the Best Defense Against Hacking?

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Author: David Yee
Created: 11 September, 2015
Updated: 18 October, 2022
2 min read

There is no doubt that we haven't heard the last of Hillary Clinton's email scandal.

Was it dumb of her to use her personal emails for state business? Of course -- but technology keeps expanding at paces faster than regulations and employment rules can keep up.

Simply put, by the letter of the law, she probably didn't do anything wrong because there wasn't firm, explicit policies in place. The Obama presidency has been the first truly wireless presidency.

One thing is certain, governments worldwide are responding to this and setting policies on what types of services and equipment their employees and officials can use.

In Russia, workers are forbidden to use western social media on state equipment or during work-times. This includes sending messages back and forth as part of the work day between co-workers:

This definitely should not be allowed for working correspondence. We live in a free country and for their personal purposes they can use whatever they want, but once they start exchanging some information marked ‘for official use’ this becomes unacceptable -- Nikolay Nikiforov, Minister of Communications and Mass Media, Russian Federation

A few within the Russian parliament have demanded that laws be passed making non-compliance to these policies equivalent to high treason. When considering the damage of breaches on the scale of Wikileaks, state security is at an enormous risk.

Other Russian politicians have noted that as technology becomes more complicated, the greater chance there is to hack the device or for nefarious programs to be installed by foreign governments to spy on government officials.

One answer, the return of the $20 "throw away phones" that can be changed periodically (and presumably frequently).

This answer potentially protects in two ways. First, the limited technology means that users are unlikely to pick up stray viruses or programs that smartphones are all too vulnerable to getting. Second, it's a cheap way to change phone numbers of government officials, making it harder to isolate their phone numbers for spying.

This is probably not a bad idea in the America.

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When Donald Trump outed Lindsay Graham's cell number during a rally, he had presumably been given that number years earlier.

How much official business had Graham used this cell for over those years?

This is yet another example of how the best defense against high tech is often by going low tech.

America is lagging behind most of the other P5+1 nations when it comes to having clear-cut policies on the use of electronic devices by their leaders. It's time we change that -- and possibly revive those antiquated "talk-only" phones in the process.

Photo Credit: Lori Sparkia / shutterstock.com

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