Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and three other Trump Organization properties have poor online security and are highly vulnerable to attacks by hackers, an investigation has found.
Reporters from ProPublica and Gizmodo tested internet security at the properties using a two-foot handheld wireless antenna. At Mar-a-Lago (the “Winter White House”), they found three weakly encrypted Wi-Fi networks that could have been hacked “in five minutes.” At the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, there were two open Wi-Fi networks that didn’t require a password. At Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and a golf club in Sterling, Virginia, the reporters found a cornucopia of security threats: “Weak and open Wi-Fi networks, wireless printers without passwords, servers with outdated and vulnerable software, and unencrypted login pages to back-end databases containing sensitive information.”
At Mar-a-Lago, Trump has already hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and British politician Nigel Farage while president. There was sharp controversy during Abe’s visit, when Trump and Abe discussed a North Korean missile test in an open dining area. Mar-a-Lago has closed for the season, and Trump has already conducted official business at the Bedminster club, according to Time.
“Sophisticated attackers could take advantage of vulnerabilities in the Wi-Fi networks to take over devices like computers or smartphones and use them to record conversations involving anyone on the premises,” reports ProPublica.
“Those networks all have to be crawling with foreign intruders,” said Dave Aitel, chief executive officer of digital-security firm Immunity, Inc., after learning of the lax security measures.
The online security of governments and large organizations is again in the spotlight, after Russian hackers attempted to influence the recent French presidential election and last weekend’s WannaCry ransomware attack crippled organizations in more than 12 countries, from Britain’s National Health Service to Russia’s Interior Ministry.
Trump Organization spokeswoman Amanda Miller said the company follows cybersecurity best practices. “Like virtually every other company these days, we are routinely targeted by cyberterrorists whose only focus is to inflict harm on great American businesses,” says Miller. “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.”