Hacking’s not funny. It’s really not. But Donald Trump getting hacked kind of is. The business mogul and US presidential hopeful – who refers to himself in the third person and whose utterances on Syrian refugees (‘if I win, they're going back’), Mexican immigration (‘they are bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and their rapists’) and of course women (just take your pick) leave rather a lot to be desired – admitted a cyber security breach last night.
This is where it gets less funny. The breach affected customers in his Trump Hotel Collection (THC) business, who made credit card purchases at some of Trump’s hotels between May 2014 and June this year. The company said that malware buried within the payment system may have accessed personal and card data over that period, but that external investigators found no conclusive evidence that this data was actually taken from the system by the hackers.
While it’s possible that the perpetrators were motivated by Trump’s eyebrow-raising (and at times eye-watering) political campaign, it’s much more likely to have been driven by old-fashioned greed. The hotel industry is just one of many that’s suffered from a distinct rise in highly organised cybercrime over the last few years - and the problem is likely to get worse before it gets better.
The way Trump responded is actually a good lesson in how to respond to a cyber breach (read MT’s short guide here). Rather than The Donald taking a break from his campaigning to launch a personal tirade against the perpetrators, his firm released a reassuring yet honest statement about what happened and what it’s doing next.
At the same time, it offered advice and complimentary card fraud insurance for all guests who stayed there during the period. The only box that it may not have ticked is timeliness – rumours of a hack began circulating back in July, though THC may have directly contacted individuals before now.
But that’s all very serious. For a guilt-free Trump-hack-treat, you need to turn back to 2013, when he mysteriously started quoting rather rude lyrics from rapper Lil Wayne on his Twitter account (‘I’ve been seriously hacked’) or to August when Canadian hackers posted a tribute to satirist Jon Stewart on Trump’s corporate account, which ended in a call to celebrate ‘America’s first openly asshole presidential candidate’.
It’s a lesson for big name business leaders thinking of going into politics perhaps. A higher profile makes for a bigger target.