Tuesday, October 27, 2020

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What did Donald Trump do today?

He got hacked (again) days after saying nobody ever gets hacked.

Trump's campaign website was briefly defaced by hackers today claiming to have "evidence that completely discredits mr trump as a president," and offering to release—or conceal—that evidence based on Bitcoin donations paid to their account. (It's not clear why the hackers thought there was a seller's market for evidence discrediting Trump.)

There aren't really any security implications to this kind of web-vandalism, but it comes days after Trump jeered a reporter who (falsely) claimed to have been hacked after an embarrassing Twitter message came to light. "Nobody gets hacked," he said, unless someone with a "197 IQ" was involved. 

That's not true, and Trump's failure to understand that does have national security implications. Fake messages (or genuine ones) Trump's Twitter feed could literally start wars or crash economies. His Twitter account has been breached four times that we know of, including one incident that was reported just last week. In at least two of those cases, it wasn't so much "hacking" as guessing simple passwords like "yourefired" (his reality TV host catchphrase) and "maga2020!"

To put it lightly, Trump has been all over the map on cybersecurity. At times he's seemed to think that computers were so unsecure that only bicycle couriers could be trusted with sensitive information, and he tried to deflect blame for Russia's sophisticated cyberattacks on the DNC onto a hypothetical "400-pound" person acting alone. After taking office, he openly embraced the idea of working with the Putin regime on cybersecurity, effectively turning over what secrets the U.S. intelligence community still had over to Russia.

But he also uses an unsecured cell phone, which has horrified his staff and the intelligence community, since unsecured ones are notoriously easy targets for foreign intelligence agencies. And he's shown himself to be easily fooled by "social engineering" scams and other forms of emotional manipulation.

Why does this matter?

  • This isn't one of those things a president can afford to be clueless about.
  • People who live in poorly secured houses shouldn't throw stones.