Mar-a-Lago’s Security Problems Go Way Beyond a Thumb Drive
According to various security experts, the recent incident in which a Chinese woman carrying a thumb drive containing malware was arrested at Mar-a-Lago, exposes a variety of security issues affecting Donald Trump’s private resort, where he has spent about 100 days since he was sworn in as president in 2017.
The Miami Herald on Wednesday reported that a federal investigation is currently looking into possible Chinese intelligence operations around Mar-a-Lago. Some experts are hardly surprised by this, since the resort is a relatively easy target for actors aiming to get close to the president. As one security professional explained, Mar-a-Lago is hard to lock down because “it is a commercial establishment at the end of the day. The more they make it like a fortress, the less people want to be there.”
Furthermore, the Secret Service is not even in charge of deciding who is allowed access to the resort. According to an official statement, “[t]he Secret Service does not determine who is invited or welcome at Mar-a-Lago; this is the responsibility of the host entity.” This arrangement seriously complicates the physical security of the resort, and there are also cybersecurity risks. In fact, a 2017 report by ProPublica and Gizmodo warned that the Mar-a-LagoWi-Fi network was poorly secured, as was true for the networks at some of Trump’s other properties.
In this context, various Democratic senators have written a letter to director of national intelligence Dan Coats and Secret Service director Randolph Alles, stating that the recent incident at Trump’s favorite resort “raises very serious questions regarding security vulnerabilities at Mar-a-Lago, which foreign intelligence services have reportedly targeted,” adding that such vulnerabilities would have “serious national security implications.”