Even in one of America’s most secret intelligence agencies, basic security rules are not always followed.
A US secret service agent inserted a USB flash drive with malware into his work computer, taken from a Chinese woman who had infiltrated a Donald Trump private resort in Florida. The device was turned off almost immediately, but it managed to start installing unknown files. This was told in court by another employee of the department Samuel Ivanovich (Samuel Ivanovich).
According to Ivanovich, he had never seen such behavior of flash drives. His colleague had to immediately turn off the device to prevent damage to the computer. A spokesman for the Secret Service told TechCrunch that the device was “isolated”, but did not disclose the details. The publication noted that in this case it is unclear why the agent panicked and “immediately” turned off the device.
The founder of the company Rendition Infosec and former NSA hacker Jake Williams (Jake Williams) criticized the actions of an analyst for the Secret Service. According to him, the agent has jeopardized his own system and perhaps the entire network of departments.
Williams noted that the best way to investigate a suspicious flash drive is to connect it to a Linux-based stand-alone computer, which disables the automatic mounting of external drives. After that, experts can create a disk image and study it in the laboratory.
As recalled in TechCrunch, flash drives are the easiest and most effective way to infect or damage computers. For example, in 2016, researcher Eli Burstein found out that access to other people’s computers can be quickly obtained simply by scattering infected flash drives on the street. Out of curiosity, passers-by connect them to their devices and voluntarily open access to intruders.
Ivanovich testified in court over the Yujing Zhang case – a Chinese woman who was detained in March 2019 in the private resort of Mar-a-Lago, where Trump rested. When she was arrested, the woman had four telephones, a laptop, $ 8,000 in cash, an external hard drive, a hidden camera detection device and a flash drive.
At first, Zhang claimed she went to the restricted area to take a dip in the pool, but later changed her testimony, saying that she was invited to an event. No mention of this was found, and during the search she was not found a swimsuit.
On the day of her arrest, Zhang told us that she corresponded through WeChat with a man named Charles, who invited her to an event at the resort base. Supposedly, it could have been about Charles Lee, who really had to organize an event in Mar-a-Lago, but it was canceled. During court hearings, lawyer Zhang provided a receipt for a payment of 20 thousand dollars in favor of an organization run by Li. This was supposed to confirm that Zhang was working for him.
Zhang explained the presence of several phones at once by the fact that she was afraid to leave them in the room. At the same time, for some reason, she did not worry about thousands of dollars in cash. It is not yet clear what Zhang was trying to do and whether she is a Chinese spy. During the hearing, the Secret Service agent said that the woman had no devices for hacking or wiretapping.
At the time of this writing, Zhang was accused of lying to a federal agent and entering the restricted area. In court, the prosecution insisted that she could not be released on bail because of the high risk that the woman would leave the country. The final decision should be made on Monday, April 15th.