How Obama keeps his BlackBerry secure

October 29, 2013 06:37 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 11:22 pm IST - Washington

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

During his first White House campaign, Barack Obama’s BlackBerry 8830 seldom left his side.

He used the mobile email reader constantly to run his successful election race. That dependence made it all the more shocking when White House security told him he’d have to give it up upon assuming office. The beloved BlackBerry had become an unacceptable security risk.

At Mr. Obama’s insistence, however, those barriers were eventually overcome: he routinely makes calls and sends one email after another via his BlackBerry.

Yet the ease with which he communicates disguises the vast security infrastructure that had to be set up to secure the President’s wired ways.

Like other secured mobiles, Mr. Obama’s are also protected with encryption software. People speaking to Mr. Obama must use similar systems or have their conversations with him re-encrypted.

As for landline conversations, Mr. Obama uses specially designed devices from Telecore and Cisco.

But US security agencies don’t rely entirely upon encryption to keep presidential communications secret.

Even without cracking the code, hackers could still pick up Mr. Obama’s location by figuring out the mobile’s position in relation to broadcast towers. That’s why the President always has a secure base station in his region assigned to him, which his mobile uses exclusively. The station is then connected to the outside world via satellite.

The President’s email inbox is also a sensitive area. No attachments are allowed to protect it from viruses. Only the smallest circle of people even knows the address.

Top News Today


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.