Unsecured Wi-Fi networks, wireless printers and misconfigured servers represent a few of the poor cybersecurity practices found by reporters who poked around Trump resorts and hotels, including the “Winter White House,” Mar-a-Lago.
Armed with a directional Wi-Fi antenna gun and “easily available software,” a team of Gizmodo and ProPublica reporters found “weak and open” Wi-Fi networks at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, the Trump International Hotel in D.C., and the Trump National Golf Clubs in New Jersey and Virginia.
So what’s the big deal? While a hotel guest may enjoy a password-free Wi-Fi network, it sets a low hurdle for snooping on a president. For example, an open Wi-Fi network could allow a third party to intercept unencrypted internet traffic while a more sophisticated attacker could turn on the cameras and microphones of devices connected to the network, the report said.
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That’s one of the fears that urged lawmakers to push for a Government Accountability Office investigation into the security at Mar-a-Lago after the club’s guests posted pictures to Facebook of President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe examining national security documents. Trump later hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago.
“These networks have to be crawling with foreign intruders, not just [Gizmodo and] ProPublica,” Immunity CEO Dave Aitel told Gizmodo.
The hospitality industry isn’t a stranger to cyberattacks, though they often focus on nabbing payment information from front desks. In the fall, the Trump hotel chain paid a $50,000 penalty after breaches exposed 70,000 credit card numbers.
A Trump Organization spokeswoman told Gizmodo the business follows cybersecurity best practices and uses "best-in-class firewall and anti-vulnerability platforms." It spends more than $440,000 on security—not specifically digital—at Mar-a-Lago while the Defense Information Systems Agency spends $64 million on the networks at the traditional presidential vacation spot, Camp David, the report said.
In this security assessment, the reporters said they could have hacked Mar-a-Lago “in less than five minutes” but didn’t. A week ago, Gizmodo published the results of another security experiment, sending phishing emails to 15 people associated with the Trump administration, including cybersecurity adviser Rudy Giuliani. Eight clicked the link, Gizmodo said.