‘Crawling With Foreign Intruders’: Mar-a-Lago Cybersecurity Full of Holes

© REUTERS / Joe SkipperFILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach is seen from West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach is seen from West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. - Sputnik International
Investigators with ProPublica and Gizmodo have prodded and tested the cyber-security of various Trump-associated locations, including his Mar-a-Lago Florida resort. The results were not good – unless, of course, you’re a hacker.

"Our inspections found weak and open Wi-Fi networks, wireless printers without passwords, servers with outdated and vulnerable software, and unencrypted login pages to back-end databases containing sensitive information," wrote the investigative team.

In the case of Mar-a-Lago, a location so dear to President Donald Trump that he calls it his "second White House," the team didn't even need to enter the grounds. They parked a boat 800 feet away and pointed an antenna at the club, and found that it would have been child's play to slip past the feeble electronic defenses of the president's home away from home.

President Donald Trump, second from right, sits down to dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, second from left, at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, is at left. Trump is hosting Abe and his wife for the weekend. - Sputnik International
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Other organizations that ProPublica found vulnerable include two Trump National Golf Clubs in Bedminster, New Jersey and Sterling, Virginia, as well as Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC.

"Those networks all have to be crawling with foreign intruders, not just ProPublica," said Dave Aitel, CEO of digital security firm Immunity, Inc.

While hotels, golf courses and resorts aren't exactly known for their ironclad security systems, the situation shifts when they are places frequented by the president of the United States. Trump himself carries a portable set of secure communications equipment when he travels, but oodles of sensitive information flows through the public networks.

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Other secure locations, such as the White House, have strictly limited Wi-Fi signals that can only be accessed from inside the building, meaning that someone hoping to glean the content of closed-door meetings would need to physically sneak into the White House. Not so in the case of Mar-a-Lago, or the golf courses or hotel.

The situation is "bad, very bad… I'd assume the data is already stolen and systems compromised," said Jeremiah Grossman, security expert with cybersecurity firm SentinelOne.

In March, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) opened an investigation to the electronic security of Mar-a-Lago after photos of Trump meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were posted on the president's Twitter account. The photos came from an Android phone not cleared for classified use, meaning they were taken in a public place.

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The GAO claims that their investigation is still in its "early stages," and did not estimate when it would be completed.

In addition to Abe, Trump has met with world leaders like Chinese President Xi Jinping and influential British politician Nigel Farage at Mar-a-Lago. When ProPublica reached out for a comment, the White House did not respond.

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