MPs are putting our security at risk as IDS demands mobile phone ban

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It follows reports that former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s mobile phone was hacked before she became Prime Minister by agents suspected of working for Russia.

Sir Iain, a former Work and Pensions Secretary, said Ministers should be ordered to hand over their phones before attending meetings.

He said: “There is no question that in the Government and even in Parliament we have become incredibly sloppy about any idea of security.”

Ministers believed their phones were secure if they turned them off before a meeting began, Sir Iain said.

But a compromised phone could be re-activated without the owner’s knowledge, with the microphone used to transmit the conversation to those listening.

He said: “I have seen Government Ministers carrying telephones into meetings in their back pocket.

“That should be stopped. All those phones should be taken off them.”

The warning was echoed by security expert Professor George Loukas, head of the Internet of Things and Security Centre at the University of Greenwich.

He said: “Mobile devices are not completely off even when they are switched off by the user. Instead, their wireless chips are operating in a low power mode without the user knowing it.

“It is very difficult to comment on how easy it is for a switched-off smartphone to be turned on or start recording audio or video as it depends on the manufacturer’s design decisions, but it is naive for MPs to think that it cannot be done or that their phone has not already been compromised.”

Prof Loukas said mobile phones could also provide information about their owner by revealing their location.

“An individual who switches off their phone upon entering a specific room in the parliament means that they are an individual that has a role that affords them to be entering that specific room in the parliament.

“In other words, I agree with the sentiment that phones should be taken off before entering meetings.”

It emerged last week that cyber-spies were believed to have gained access to Ms Truss’s exchanges with foreign leaders while she was Foreign Secretary. The hack was discovered during the summer leadership campaign.

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat last week told MPs they would be sent updated guidance from the National Cyber Security Centre, Home Office and Parliamentary security officials on how to protect their personal data and ensure nobody gains access to their online accounts.

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