The Southern White House: Concern Grows That Cybersecurity at Mar-a-Lago Is Gravely Insufficient

No matter what side of the political aisle you fall on, everyone can agree that the United States' cybersecurity is of the utmost importance. With evidence of Russian meddling in the presidential election and North Korea's governmental backing of black hat cyber collectives, it's clear that the U.S. needs to take their cybersecurity policies seriously and ramp up security efforts ASAP.

While there is a concerted effort to educate the public on cybersecurity issues and to teach them how to protect their devices and identities, it's recently been learned that the U.S. president's private club, Mar-a-Lago, (also referred to as the Southern White House by the Trump administration) has failed their cybersecurity test.

In a joint investigation, Gizmodo and ProPublica found that Donald Trump's golf resort has a number of cybersecurity issues, including the following:  

  • An insecure database login (does not use encryption, leaving it vulnerable to a brute force attack)
  • A publicly accessible, Wi-Fi enabled printer/scanner
  • Ineffectual WEP encryption
  • An unencrypted router  

The White House (even before the currently seated administration) has not been without its cybersecurity faults. TechNewsWorld writes that although millions of dollars have been spent in cybersecurity, White House communications had been hacked three years in row: 2014, 2015 and 2016.

The president hosts foreign leaders and diplomats at Mar-a-Lago to discuss political matters and he has had to have highly-classified meetings at the facility. If a cybercriminal (such as the type funded by the Kremlin or North Korea) were to be able to infiltrate Mar-a-Lago's cybersecurity system, the president, his administration and the American public could be put in great danger.

As a direct result of the cybersecurity findings at Trump's favorite owned hotel and golf resort, the United States Government Accountability Office has opened an investigation into the cybersecurity of Trump's weekend get-away.

In an interview with TechNewsWorld, independent cybersecurity analyst Randy Abrams says that "Hotels have long been a more than attractive target for cyberattackers. To conduct a meeting with a national security import in a location surrounded by vulnerable systems [is] of great concern. Considering the target value, it is incomprehensible."

The president's hotel chains have come under cyberattack before, and once a cybercriminal is able to find a vulnerability once, they'll work to find that vulnerability again. Given that Donald Trump is now the president of the United States, his businesses and real estate communications are at a greater risk. In an effort to ramp up security, Mar-a-Lago has purportedly spent close to half a million dollars on cybersecurity measures.

Cybercriminals never stop working to understand the newest and latest cybersecurity tools on the market. As soon as a new software update goes out or cybersecurity tool hits the market, cyber crooks pounce and work around the clock to dismantle the new code and reshape what was once a shield into a weapon.

Thus, even if you have an excellent cybersecurity plan in place, you can still fall victim to a hacker's tricks. Learn from number 45: update your cyber systems before its weaknesses are discovered.

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