Trump’s Mar-a-Lago can be hacked in minutes: investigators

The Wi-Fi networks at Mar-a-Lago and a number of other Trump properties can be hacked in a matter of minutes, according to a team of investigators.

“We parked a 17-foot motor boat in a lagoon about 800 feet from the back lawn of the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, and pointed a two-foot wireless antenna that resembled a potato gun toward the club,” explained Surya Mattu, Jeff Larson and Julia Angwin, who performed a handful of hacks on behalf of Gizmodo and ProPublica.

“Within a minute, we spotted three weakly encrypted Wi-Fi networks,” they said. “We could have hacked them in less than five minutes, but we refrained.”

In their report, published Wednesday, the team describes how they managed to infiltrate networks at Mar-a-Lago, the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia — using equipment that “any half-decent hacker” would have access to.

While most hotels and golf clubs are known for their weak Internet security, they usually aren’t being visited by the president on a monthly basis.

Trump has made several stops at the aforementioned properties since his inauguration, and has even met with foreign leaders at Mar-a-Lago on numerous occasions.

“Since the election, Trump has hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and British politician Nigel Farage at his properties,” the group writes. “The cybersecurity issues we discovered could have allowed those diplomatic discussions — and other sensitive conversations at the properties — to be monitored by hackers.”

Experts told ProPublica and Gizmodo that they wouldn’t be surprised if foreign intruders have already managed to breach those networks.

“[It’s] bad, very bad,” said Jeremiah Grossman, chief of security strategy for cybersecurity firm SentinelOne. “I’d assume the data is already stolen and systems compromised.”

Dave Aitel, chief executive officer of Immunity, Inc., also believes that the networks have already been commandeered by hackers.

“Those networks all have to be crawling with foreign intruders, not just [Gizmodo and] ProPublica,” he said.

While it’s unclear if the president actually connects or uses the Wi-Fi at his properties, a spokeswoman from the Trump Organization claimed they follow “cyber security best practices.”

“Like virtually every other company these days, we are routinely targeted by cyber terrorists whose only focus is to inflict harm on great American businesses,” she told the outlets. “While we will not comment on specific security measures, we are confident in the steps we have taken to protect our business and safeguard our information. Our teams work diligently to deploy best in class firewall and anti-vulnerability platforms with constant 24/7 monitoring.”

Trump properties have a notorious history of being hacked in the past.

Just last year, the president’s hotel chain had to shell out $50,000 to settle charges brought on by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman — and agree to shore up its data security practices — after they failed to disclose the loss of more than 70,000 credit card numbers and 300 social security numbers.

Prosecutors later alleged that the hotel chain had been the target of a cyber-attack, which resulted in the compromise of personal data.


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