Speed Reads

aka the winter white house

It's apparently very easy to hack Mar-a-Lago

ProPublica and Gizmodo recently teamed up to determine just how easy it is to hack the WiFi networks at President Trump's properties — and the results were alarming:

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 2-foot wireless antenna that resembled a potato gun toward the club. Within a minute, we spotted three weakly encrypted WiFi networks. We could have hacked them in less than five minutes, but we refrained.

A few days later, we drove through the grounds of the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, with the same antenna and aimed it at the clubhouse. We identified two open WiFi networks that anyone could join without a password. We resisted the temptation. [ProPublica]

Networks at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and the Trump family-run golf club in Sterling, Virginia, proved similarly vulnerable.

ProPublica noted it's "not clear" if Trump actually uses these networks when he travels to his various properties, as he is provided with "portable secure communications equipment." However, Trump has held private discussions at his properties and hosted heads of state, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Experts explained that aside from "digital snooping," attackers could use vulnerable WiFi networks to "take over devices like computers or smartphones and use them to record conversations involving anyone on the premises."

Cybersecurity issues apparently aren't that unusual in the hospitality industry, though of course not every hotel and club is regularly hosting the leader of the free world. A spokeswoman for Trump Organization insisted that it adheres to "cybersecurity best practices."

Read more on Trump properties' cybersecurity — or lack thereof — at ProPublica.