Less than a month after Rudy Giuliani was named Donald Trump’s cybersecurity adviser back in 2017, he entered an Apple store in downtown San Francisco.
Giuliani wasn’t in the store to make a purchase he was there to ask for help.
He had managed to lock himself out of his iPhone because he had forgotten his passcode and entered the wrong one 10 times causing the phone to lock. The situation was brought to light after NBC News obtained internal Apple memos about the issue.
“Very sloppy,” stated a former Apple store employee who was there on the day that Giuliani stopped in for help.
“Trump had just named him as an informal adviser on cybersecurity and here, he couldn’t even master the fundamentals of securing your own device.”
Giuliani’s handling of the issue certainly calls into question his knowledge of basic security measures. It also raised concerns because Giuliani was in Trump’s inner circle and devices like cell phones are vulnerable to hackers.
“There’s no way he should be going to a commercial location to ask for that assistance,” said E.J. Hilbert, a former FBI agent for cybercrime and terrorism.
Michael Anaya, a former FBI supervisory special agent who led a cyber squad for four years, reacted with shock when he was told Giuliani took his phone to an Apple store.
“That’s crazy,” he said.
Anaya added that someone in Giuliani’s position should never allow a person he didn’t know to access his device.
“You’re trusting that person in the store not to look at other information that is beyond what you’re there to get assistance for,” said Anaya, who now works as the head of global investigations for the DEVCON cybersecurity firm. “That’s a lot of trusts you’re putting into an individual that you don’t know.”
Anaya added that protocols should be in place so White House staffers, not Apple store employees, helped Giuliani deal with any issues related to his phone.
“It’s unnerving to think that this individual has access to the most powerful person in the world and that sensitive communications could be disclosed to people who should not have access to them,” Anaya added.
Giuliani was named Trump’s cybersecurity adviser on Jan. 12, 2017, an informal position outside of the government.
“This is a rapidly evolving field both as to intrusions and solutions and it is critically important to get timely information from all sources,” the presidential transition office said in a statement on that day. “Mr. Giuliani was asked to initiate this process because of his long and very successful government career in law enforcement and his now sixteen years of work providing security solutions in the private sector.”
The Apple store internal memo spelled out what took place.
“Customer came in with an iPhone that had a forgotten passcode and the phone had been disabled,” the memo reads. It is time-stamped at 11:20 a.m. on Feb. 7, 2017.
“Proceeded with DFU (device firmware update) restore and will set up the phone again from a current iCloud backup.”
Giuliani’s phone had to be erased and set up as new. The phone was listed as an out-of-warranty iPhone 6.
The name on the memo is Rudolph Giuliani. The phone number is connected to his consulting firm Giuliani Partners. And the personal email address he gave to the Apple store includes elements of his personal life.