An Asian woman was found attempting to gain access to the Trump owned Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida while allegedly carrying an infected memory stick containing malware. The incident took place on the last weekend of March this year, 2019. Although Donald Trump has been spending time at the resort, when the woman arrived with the infected memory stick, he was out at his International Golf Club. It’s reported that the two were never close to one another at any point.
The woman has been named as Yujing Zhang, a 32-year-old who (along with the infected memory stick) was carrying two passports from the People’s Republic of China at the time of the incident.
According to court documents, Zhang Raised suspicion after having given resort staff and secret service agents different reasons as why she was attempting to enter the restricted area. It’s alleged that she used her Asian descent to her advantage by using a language barrier to get around certain questions, whilst later it was reported that she displayed an extensive knowledge of the English language when being interviewed by Secret Service agents after the fact.
Allegedly, the first encounter the resort had with Zhang was at a primary checkpoint where she told secret service agents that she was a member of the club just wanting to use the pool. It was here that she first presented the two passports as ID, apparently both in the name Zhang. This is where Zhang started to play on the afore mentioned language barrier. Due to this potential barrier, the secret service agents contacted the manager of the resort, who reportedly replied with a suggestion that she could be the daughter of a member who shared the same surname. From this, Zhang was able to continue further into the resort and enter the reception.
Once in the reception, her story changed, she informed staff that she was attending a United Nations event (that didn’t exist) and had just arrived early. Even after secret service staff were called, she maintained her new story about attending a UN event.
The woman was later arrested by secret service agents and when her belongings were checked, she was found to not be carrying any swimming attire with her (contradicting the first story she told agents) but along with the infected memory stick and the two passports, was four mobile phones, a laptop and an external hard drive.
We can only speculate at this point as to specifically what was found on the infected memory stick, but if the woman had intended to plug the infected memory stick into one of the resorts computers, or even a device linked to President Trump, it may have been some sort of advanced persistent threat (APT) malware. An APT malware attack, such as the Deep Panda attack discovered in 2015, could be used to circumvent security systems that have been put in place and gain unauthorised access to a network. The attack is designed to remain undetected for a lengthy period. Traditionally, advance persistent threats have been associated with state pondered attacks, but in recent times it’s been reported that non-state sponsored groups have been using the attacks.
What do you think the woman’s intentions were?