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article imageMar-a-Lago, other Trump properties easy targets to hack: report

By Arthur Weinreb     May 18, 2017 in Internet
An investigation has determined the Internet security at Mar-a-Lago and other Donald J. Trump’s properties is extremely weak. Three investigators determined the Wi-Fi systems of these properties could be hacked into in about five minutes.
The investigation into the Internet security at Mar-a-Largo and other Trump properties was a joint project by Gizmodo and ProPublica. Investigators determined the wireless networks at Trump properties were easy to hack into and made good targets for spying and hacking. The results of the investigation were published in both publications yesterday afternoon.
The report, written by Jeff Larson, Surya Mattu and Julia Angwin, said two weeks ago the three parked a boat about 800 yards off Mar-a-Lago’s back lawn and pointed an antenna at the property. In about a minute, they discovered three Wi-Fi networks that were weakly encrypted. Although they resisted whatever temptation they may have had, they determined they could have hacked into the systems in about five minutes.
The trio also examined security systems at other Trump properties, such as Washington D.C.'s Trump Hotel and the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia. They found the wireless systems could be easily be hacked by the use of equipment “that any half-decent hacker would have access to.”
Internet security at Trump’s properties is no different than those located at similar resorts and hotels. What makes this case different is the fact these properties are owned by the president of the United States who sometimes conducts business on their premises. The president frequently goes to Mar-a-Lago and has met there with heads of state such as Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The investigation revealed any conversations between Trump and these visiting heads of state could have been be easily monitored.
Other experts weighed in. Dave Aitel told Gizmodo and ProPublica that based upon the report, he assumes the system has already been compromised and data has been stolen. Jeremiah Grossman, of SentinelOne, described the security systems at the Trump properties as “bad, very bad.”
A 2016 report showed $442,931 was spent on security at Mar-a-Lago. That is a lot of money but nowhere near the multi-million dollar budget that provides Internet security to the White House and Camp David. But even then, CNN reported two years ago that the Russians had hacked into the State Department and from there they hacked into parts of the White House computer system. According to the White House, it was an unclassified system that was hacked into and no classified information was compromised.
Amanda Miller, a spokesperson for Trump Organization, disagreed with the report. She said like other large businesses, they are targeted routinely by cyber terrorists and the company’s team works diligently to guard against such attacks, 24/7.
What is not clear is whether the president actually uses these unsecured systems when he visits Mar-a-Lago or any of his other properties. When he is out of the White House, Trump has access to portable secure communications equipment.
More about Hacking, Wifi, Cybersecurity, Donald trump, maralago
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