FBI is investigating hack attempt at Trump Organization

Eric Trump dismisses alleged attempted hack on Trump Organization as “crazy”

Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. CREDIT: AP Photos/Beth J. Harpaz
Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. CREDIT: AP Photos/Beth J. Harpaz

The FBI is probing an attempted foreign cyberattack on the Trump Organization, according to an ABC News report.

Agency officials told ABC the attempted hacking prompted a meeting with the FBI, CIA, and Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, who run the president’s billion-dollar real estate and licensing business with sister Ivanka Trump.

Eric vehemently denied any hack occurred, insisting that any attempted cyberattack on the president’s lucrative business was an impossibility.

“We absolutely weren’t hacked,” he said during a call with the FBI, ABC reported. “That’s crazy. We weren’t hacked, I can tell you that.”

But it’s not crazy. Government agencies and companies are constantly under threat of cyberattack. Just a week ago, FedEx and other U.S. entities were affected by the WannaCry ransomware attack that hit up to 300,000 computers worldwide. A billion-dollar company that the president technically still owns is an even bigger target.

What’s more, Trump himself has demonstrated a wanton disregard for what he terms “the cyber,” both at a policy level and in regards to his own security. After taking office, Trump’s digital habits were called into question by cybersecurity experts. His administration linked a private Gmail account to the official @POTUS Twitter account, and tweeted regularly from an insecure Android phone. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) demanded an investigation into the latter. Trump’s campaign website was hacked in February, and security experts raised the alarm over a website belonging to Trump’s own cybersecurity adviser—former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani—calling it severely insecure.

President Donald Trump’s cybersecurity policies are equally lacking, beyond an executive order he signed a day before the WannaCry attack began. The order, objectively a good first step for increasing security, directs government agencies to develop and implement strategies to make agencies more impervious to cyberattacks. But Trump has also left many key cybersecurity positions across the federal government vacant.

But while Trump and his cybersecurity advisor Tom Bossert see the value in investing in good cybersecurity practices (it is good business after all), his personal digital habits and the lack of security at his facilities make him and his businesses an even more vulnerable target. A ProPublica/Gizmodo investigation found that “any half-decent hacker could break into Mar-a-Lago,” Trump’s luxurious resort in Palm Beach, Florida where foreign dignitaries have taken to visiting since Trump spends so much time there.

Even without so many points of vulnerability, Trump’s businesses, devices, and websites are just as vulnerable as the rest of the country. As Time Magazine reported last week, Russian attackers targeted thousands of Defense Department employees through tailored Twitter messages, and even the NSA has fallen victim to cyberattacks. If the agency tasked with protecting the nation isn’t safe, the Trump Organization certainly isn’t.