A new report from ProPublica and Gizmodo offers up the unsurprising confirmation that our bumbling president is not very good at “the cyber.” Using wireless antennas, the reporters were able to detected poorly secured wireless networks and devices at four of President Trump’s properties, including Mar-a-Lago and his current operating base out of his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. They discovered “weak and open Wi-Fi networks, wireless printers without passwords, servers with outdated and vulnerable software, and unencrypted login pages to back-end databases containing sensitive information.”
It’s unclear whether Trump connects government technology to the unsecured networks on his properties, but the sheer breadth of opportunity available to bad actors should give the White House pause. As Trump continues to conduct his presidency from his private property, rather than government facilities, he’s opening himself up to attack.
Past behavior is not encouraging in this regard. In mid-February, Trump conducted meetings with international diplomats concerning a North Korean missile launch in the middle of the Mar-a-Lago dining room, in full view of club guests who documented it on social media. They also pointed their phones, and phone cameras, at the documents in order to read them using the device’s flashbulb. Using an unprotected network to compromise devices attached to it, and perform actions like eavesdropping, is remarkably easy.
For months, Trump’s wranglers have been trying to get him to drop his use of outmoded, unsecured devices, such as the Android phone from which he barfs out tweets. (It now seems that Trump has transitioned to a more secure iPhone. The tweets still suck though.)
Then again, maybe the president is fully aware of his lax cybersecurity; he might just be fatalistic about it. In 2014, he tweeted, “We will never have great national security in the age of computers — too many brilliant nerds can break codes (the old days were better).”