Tag Archives: Trump

Trump Organization Hacked 4 Years Ago (And Didn’t Know It)

Reports are coming out that the Trump organization suffered a hack, Bigly, as the President would say, around four years ago and, we assume, did not know about it until a week ago.  The only alternative explanation is that they did know about and chose to let the hacker stay inside their network for four years.  Either explanation is problematic.

What happened?  The heart of any Internet based corporate world is DNS or the Domain Name System.   DNS is where you define every web site in the organization and all of the parameters of those sites.  If a hacker controls your DNS he or she can shut down access to your web servers or point them to a different place (such as to porn sites as we have seen in the past).

Apparently, based on reports shown to the media, hackers took over the Trump organization’s DNS and added hundreds of sub-domains under a variety of Trump domains.

These roughly 250 sub-domains were all hosted in Russia.  The Mother Jones article below provides a link to a list of those domains.

These domains were pointing to one of 17 IP addresses owned by the Petersburg Internet Network, known for hosting a lot of cyber criminals.

Two weeks ago a researcher came to Mother Jones with this information;  The anti virus firm Kaspersky (who has been in the news lately) said that many of those sub-domains were, in fact, serving up malware.  Last week a researcher tweeted about it.

Trump said that the domains were not CURRENTLY serving up malware (which appears to be true) and they have no association with those sub domains.  If that is true, then the only reasonable explanation is that they were hacked and didn’t know it.

I am sure there will be more about this in the news.

Information for this post came from Mother Jones.

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Trump Senior Staff Using Same Hackable Private Email as Hillary

I generally stay away from politics in this blog, but this item is an interesting intersection of security and politics. And, it is pretty unique.  Most non-public sector businesses don’t have to worry about this.  While they may or may not let employees use their business email for personal reasons, there are no laws or regulations governing that.  Which makes this situation unique.  And very interesting. Sooooo…..

Politicians are an interesting breed.

After Trump spent months on the campaign trail saying that Hillary Clinton was a criminal for using a private email server, that she risked state secrets and that she should be locked up, Newsweek is reporting that Kellyanne Conway, Jared Kushner, Sean Spicer and Steve Bannon have active email accounts on the private RNC email server.

This is the same email system that George W. Bush used and on which he misplaced 22 million emails.  You may remember that Trump also complained about some 30,000 emails on Hillary’s private email server that were deleted.

Politicians can talk out of one side of their mouth to complain about what an opponent does and then do it themselves.

Now that it has come to light, the staffers are no  longer using those accounts.

But, just like Trump complained about Hillary, we have no idea what the senior Trump staff may have used that server for.

We do believe that Bush used that very same server to evade transparency rules.

We have not yet heard from the White House that while they may no longer be using the RNC email server that they are not using any other private email servers.

This is the same kind of servers that Trump complained about on the campaign trail were not secure.  And, at least until yesterday, they, themselves, were using.

Of course we have no idea what they used those email accounts for – or didn’t.  The law does NOT prohibit them from using private email accounts for non-government business.  It does require them to forward any government business email that is received on a private account to the government within 20 days.

A former Obama White House official said that they were trained on the issue of using private emails from day 1 and a former Obama administration lawyer said that they did an enormous amount of training on compliance.

That being said, we likely will never know what is on these servers – those accounts were likely wiped within an inch of their life.

Part of the problem is that some White House staff work part time or in an unpaid capacity for the RNC.  As soon as that happens, mischief is almost certain to follow.

Since FBI Director Comey said that Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server was “extremely careless”, I assume he will come out as publicly and as vocally about the Trump team’s use of similar servers.

The RNC said that those email accounts were only used for email distribution lists.  Who knows.  That is certainly possible.  Or not.

Stay tuned.

We definitely live in interesting times.

Information for this post came from Newsweek.

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Trump Hotels Hacked For Second Time In 12 Months

While The Trump Hotel Collection is “investigating” yet another breach at their luxury hotel chain, Brian Krebs is reporting that three different sources in the financial sector have told him that they have noticed “a pattern of fraud” that suggests that hackers have breached security at some, if not all, properties in the Trump hotel chain.

Just last July the Trump organization was dealing a cyber security breach. Possibly this is a new attack; possibly they did not clean out all the traces of the old attack.

I assume that they will make a statement once they are done investigating.

In the mean time, it is an embarrassment for the luxury hotel chain to be breached twice in less than a year.

After Krebs reported the earlier breach, Eric Trump, Donald Trump’s son and the executive in charge of the hotels issued a statement that “Like virtually every other company these days, we have been alerted to potential suspicious credit card activity and are in the midst of a thorough investigation to determine whether it involves any of our properties,”.  Basically, he said, to quote Tom Peters, We’re no worse than anyone else.  But we are no better either.

To add to the embarrassment, Donald Trump said, in an interview with the New York Times, that we’re so obsolete in cyber.  He did not offer any suggestions regarding how he would fix that.

If, in fact, his hotels have been hacked, again, his statement will turn out to be correct.  I think he was suggesting that this obsolescence is the government’s fault, but the security at his hotels would be his responsibility.

I am sure this will heat up;  the item only came out yesterday, so stay tuned.

Information for this post came from Krebs On Security.

 

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Donald Trump Hotels Newest Credit Card Hack Victim

BBC is reporting that several of the Trump hotels point of sale systems likely have been hacked.  Trump’s initial response to questions was to decline to comment.  Later, after the news of the breach was published, Eric Trump, Donald’s son, said that like “virtually every other company these days” they had been alerted to suspicious activity and are in the midst of a “thorough” investigation.  They also reminded the media that they “are committed to safeguarding all guests’ personal information”.

Before I fly off the handle, there really isn’t a lot that they can say as they investigate the breach.

However, saying that “like virtually every other company …” reminds me of the old Tom Peters (In Search Of Excellence and many other books) quote.  Peters,  in lamenting how poorly most American businesses were run, said that most businesses fundamental operating principal was “we’re no worse than anyone else“.  That seems to be the principal that the Trump chain is using.

And, to be clear, while there are many, many credit card breaches every year, to say that virtually every other company has had their credit card data hacked is a bit of a stretch.  Even if it were true, to use that as a justification of why they were hacked is probably not going to sit well with the high end customers that his hotels court.

Brian Krebs wrote, in his coverage of the Trump breach, that maybe hackers are doing one last effort to grab credit cards before the October 15 deadline for liability for credit cards.  I would like to dissect that statement because it is problematical.

(a) The October 15th date is when merchants start absorbing liability if they do not have credit card machines that accept chip based credit cards – that the rest of the world has been using for years.

(b) The new cards that your banks will issue will still have a mag stripe on it.  That means, at least to a degree, those cards are still vulnerable.

(c) We will have to see if merchants stop swiping (and therefore collecting) mag stripe data on cards after that date.  IF THEY DO STOP SWIPING THE MAG STRIPES then that data will no  longer be collected and therefore no longer available to hackers.  We are going to have to wait and see what merchants do.

(d) There is no law or rule that will stop merchants from swiping your mag stripe after October 15th and, in fact, many merchants will not have new credit card readers by then, so they will continue to swipe your card.

(e) Banks are worried silly that if it is a little bit harder to use your credit card  you might pay cash (and possibly get a discount!) and they will lose out on the fees.  As a result, they have decided both to leave the mag stripe on the new cards and not require you to use a pin with your chip card – as the rest of the world does – and instead use the totally ridiculous option of having you sign your virtual receipt.  Since NO ONE checks your signature (again, for fear that you might bail on the transaction) this will reduce certain types of fraud but it will not reduce other types.

(f) The October 15th deadline does not apply to a variety of merchants such as gas stations, and, I expect, banks will not have all ATMs upgraded by then either.

(g) The chip card has no effect on Internet based sales and most people expect Internet fraud to go through the roof as hackers move their efforts to ecommerce web sites once it becomes harder to hack places like Trump’s hotels.

This migration to chip cards – and hopefully, eventually, to chip and pin, will take years.  Many years.

Both BBC and Krebs are saying that this breach goes back to February.  If so, this is July, which means that it only took the banks 3 or 4 months to detect the breach and, Trump’s response seems to indicate that they were not aware of the problem at until until the banks told them about it.  Believe it or not, that is pretty quick.

While I am beating on the Trump chain pretty hard, as Tom Peters said, they really ARE no worse than anyone else.

My two cents.

Information for this post came from BBC and Brian Krebs.

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