Obama says he can't use an iPhone because of security

Obama says he can't use an iPhone because of security

US President Barack Obama told a group of young people at the White House that he can't use an Apple iPhone for security reasons, according to a recent Associated Press report (as published by SecurityWeek).

Obama's a prolific BlackBerry user, and has often been seen in public with his - which is specially encrypted to prevent the sort of eavesdropping that the NSA reportedly had done on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

While the President may not be allowed to use an iPhone, his daughters do, apparently: he said that Sasha and Malia spend a lot of time on their iPhones.

Source: SecurityWeek

Peter Cohen

Managing Editor of iMore, Mac and gaming specialist and all-around technologist. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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There are 58 comments. Add yours.

jpolk84 says:

He must know something we don't.

Bulldawg says:

Since BlackBerry is the only MDM solution certified to run on the DOD network, I don't know why this is a surprise for anyone. He is the commander in chief of the US Military. He probably has access to DOD materials on his BlackBerry.

This has been known forever, so I don't know that this even qualifies as news, but I see it posted all over.

Peter Cohen says:

Let me make something clear, because we've already deleted a few: We're not going to let the comments here devolve into a political flame war.

G.4 says:

Good for you guys and thank you for deleting comments as such.

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jblank says:

Then why post anything about the most divisive person in America today? Sorry, but when you post stories about this man, it's going to cause people to react.

Good OL MC says:

Because the topic could spur other conversations? Because the story has to do with two Mobile Nations sites?

jblank says:

I understand that MC, but to expect people to zip their lip when that man speaks about security and just smile about it, is funny. Personally, in my opinion, any reaction is going to be strong due to his divisiveness, and imore is being unnecessarily sensitive considering they posted it.

Peter Cohen says:

The story is about how the President apparently can't use an iPhone because of security concerns. The President's identity, his policies, his political party, and what you or I think of him is irrelevant. We could be talking about President Romney or Presidents Kang and Kodos.

So you, jblank, calling him a "leftist clown" is unnecessarily incendiary, and that's why that whole thread got nuked. Not, because as you've accused me in another deleted post, of being an Obama supporter.

jblank says:

I stand by what I said and I also believe you are just doing what you can to stand up for him.

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Wyatt says:

Exactly, people don't know how to stay on topic. This is about what device he is able to use due to security reasons not policies he put in place.

dc9super80 says:

Yeh, I apologise for even responding to his original post. This is a tech forum, no need to bring political OPINIONS as ridiculous or valid as they may be onto iMore.

Peter Cohen says:

We expect that our readers can comport themselves with a minimum amount of restraint.

AyeJayAre says:

Thats a bit of a straw-man. He said they would not let it devolve into a flame war, not that they would remove any post related to politics.

jblank says:

And yet they removed a simple post where I said nothing other than it was ironic that he cared about the security. Seems to me they are doing whatever they can to squelch any comment that isn't praising of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

ame says:

And you sound like you're going to have a fit when it's not bashing the current occupant.

jblank says:

Funny considering that is far from true.

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Good OL MC says:

I read the source link but it didn't give much information about the "why." What, inherently, would make the iPhone, and presumably Android, less secure for the President of the United States? I know the buzz words like "encryption" but on a deeper level, what else?

Peter Cohen says:

It's a good question, and as you know the source article mentions that the White House won't talk about what encryption techniques are being used on the President's BlackBerry.

What I can tell you is that iOS has been FIPS 140-2-compliant since iOS 6, so it's approved for general government use. But I have no doubt that the Secret Service and others want very, very specific features supported on POTUS' handset.

It's also worth noting that President Obama is the first American President with an e-mail account - that's just how concerned the White House is with cybersecurity.

sdreelin says:

The FIPS compliance is the important part, but along with the phone the mobile device management system also has to meet those requirements. The fact that Blackberry Enterprise Server provides end to end FIPS compliant encryption is, I'm sure, what drives that as being the choice of his device. I'm sure he'd be all over an iPhone if he could use it.

rayz336 says:

Probably, because he's been seen on multiple occasions using an iPad

Richard Devine says:

Just because he's the Prez, doesn't mean he doesn't like to get his Angry Birds on ;-)

Antron says:

+1 Richard! Too funny! :)

Trodecke says:

I don't know if President Obama is the first president with an email address so I'll have to take your word for it. However, I don't think the lack of an email address (or more importantly, the lack of mobile email access is purely security related. Its written into our current laws that all communications from the president barchived. As best I recall, thats the main reason the president doesn't use email. Anything he (or she got that matter) sends or recurve gets archived. It's difficult to guaranty that all communications on a cell phone, blackberry or otherwise, can be archived.

jblank says:

I guess since nobody uses Blackberry's anymore there is less chance of them being "hacked".

Peter Cohen says:

LOL. Now that's not true! They may have lost their luster with consumers but BlackBerry devices are still popular with some institutions - especially the federal government.

zdn1042 says:

That's true. BlackBerry might not be as successful in the smartphone business now as the other manufacturers but they're still capable of making excellent products that offers features and services worthy of competing with the likes of Apple and Samsung. Thank you, Peter.

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jblank says:

When was the last time you saw anyone in public use a Blackberry? It has been at least 6 months for me.

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Wyatt says:

Obviously, you don't work everywhere. I work for CUNY and Blackberries are everywhere and on some campuses standard issue to administrative staff. Maybe you need to take a trip to New York where Blackberry very much in use along with iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

jblank says:

I'm in IT for a mid sized bank and we gave up BB in 2010. Just saying.

Wyatt says:

You're one person in one bank and that's all good. I'm one person in amongst 26 large college campuses in NYC spanning 5 boroughs. I travel to and from work by bus and/or train and BB is far from abandoned here in my city and I have a BB in my office. It's numbers may be scant on a global comparison but they are not dead yet and many companies can't just give them up due to contractual obligations.

jblank says:

No, I'm one person RESPONSIBLE for bank technology, in particular, their phones and VPN service, therefore I know we we use, and I know what our competitors and friends that are also in the industry are using and it's not BB's and hasn't been for some time. As a matter of fact, outside of one other bank I know about in the area, our Exec's held onto theirs longer than anyone else. They are dead, they are in fourth place, and while there are some holdouts, the vast majority have moved on.

Wyatt says:

Like I said that's all good. The fact remains that there are still businesses using BB. So until BB stops making and selling devices they are not dead yet regardless of how many companies have stopped requiring them as standard issue.

Ipheuria says:

I wonder if that is why Lenovo was blocked from aquiring them?

jefftam68 says:

That is TOTALLY why Lenovo was blocked. The Canadian government uses nothing but BB's, so selling the encryption technology would be disastrous.

Becjr says:

I thought several high profile government agencies switched over from BlackBerry to iPhone within the past year... Poor POTUS. No TouchID for you! (guvmnt agencies not trusting each other...)
xD

TiredOfPhoneWar says:

I cant believe you deleted the posts sir, thats not very americain. Enough said! This is how you work these days?

kevinbhayes says:

The posts were irrelevant to the topic, so they should be deleted. This isn't a public-owned forum.

TiredOfPhoneWar says:

I may suggest you to take off this article also

kevinbhayes says:

For someone whose username is "TiredOfPhoneWar", I'd think you'd be understanding of those who are "TiredOfPoliticalBashingWar". Both are childish and accomplish nothing.

TiredOfPhoneWar says:

Its not about blackberry, i like blackberry, its about peter delete jblank comment which isnt political comment at all,he should not delete his comment

jblank says:

Agreed.

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Rob White says:

Without delving into left vs right politics, I'll translate this for those that can't understand gov't double speak.

"US President Barack Obama told a group of young people at the White House that he can't use an Apple iPhone for security reasons, according to a recent Associated Press report (as published by SecurityWeek)."

This is meant to say that the US gov't has a bad habit of signing long term deals with vendors for outside services, like say communication devices or maybe a website dealing with healthcare, that can't be undone when/if something better comes along because they are locked in to a very one-sided & profitable deal for the outside company ala Blackberry. There are at this point 3 very viable alternatives to Blackberry that are quite easily adaptable for use in gov't communications & they can be just as secure. But wait there's more... These alternatives can also be snooped upon quite easily by the NSA! As can Blackberry if they so choose but since it's the preferred/contracted device most politicos use, well that would be a no no you see.

And there is your answer. The gov't reserves for itself & it's select members the right to complete anonymity or security leaving us the peasant folk vulnerable to their illegal spying. It also helps that they sign these long term deals/contracts that are near unbreakable that the taxpayers, you & me, are forced to pay for yet receive no real or tangible benefit from. As we are seeing with the debacle that is the healthcare.gov website, the same companies that couldn't design it to start with are reaping handsome profits to fix it & still it isn't working. Bot the left & right are guilty of this.

The deal with Blackberry & select politicos love affair with them is no different.

Redshirt says:

Considering what's come out on the NSA, I wouldn't be surprised if they were monitoring all the blackberry servers as well...

JustMe'D says:

I am one of those people who are very outspoken in regard to politics, and I don't care who's in office. I am also an advocate of free speech, however, since I or any of you own or control this site, I will respect the wishes of iMore and only focus on the article's topic and not BHO or his politics, and I respectfully ask that you do the same, please. Let's keep it civil and be civil toward each other. Thank you, in advance...:)

BP41 says:

It's silly to posts such things.

jsntrenkler says:

Secret Service is just waiting for the iPhone 6 ;-)

jgfireemt says:

Anyone forgot this is imore's website? They can do whatever they please with personal property. Stop whining like a 4 year old that your post got deleted and try again with something informational or at least not flat out ignorant. Or don't. I can assure you in the end nobody cares. There is no phone war. Use what you want....if that's a 1996 Nokia go for it. I'll stick to my iPhone. That's my choice.

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iEd says:

Security is not just State security but personal security for the President. I'm sure there are personal communications between him and his family that needs to be secure. I would think that if his kids have iPhones they are some special measures taken by Apple to make them more secure ours.

kataran says:

Remembering the fight our President had just keeping his Blackberry when first elected he's not in any hurry to abandon it. We can only imagine the level of security that BB has

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applelex says:

Maybe he's just a BBM fanboy lol

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alexislgz says:

Well he could have his berry for work stuff and his iphone for personal stuff!!

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asuperstarr says:

What makes blackberry so secure? If it keeps the country safe then he has to do what is best.

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jpf22467#IM says:

Lets all be honest here. Do we really want the POTUS getting pissed at his phone because the Touch ID isnt responding after a few days? What if he needs to get into his phone fast and the TouchID fails again.

erikbock says:

Honestly if I found out he was using an iPhone I would have to switch to Android

Charey says:

Isn't iOS the most secure OS? Why?