back to article Mystery of the Chinese woman who allegedly tried to sneak into Trump's Mar-a-Lago with a USB stick of malware

A Chinese woman was caught sneaking into President Trump's Mar-a-Lago country club with a thumb drive of malware, it was claimed yesterday. Yujing Zhang, 32, was collared after possibly trying to slip into a bash at the swanky resort promoted by Li "Cindy" Yang, the former massage parlor boss who denies allegations she sold …

  1. VikiAi
    Joke

    Are we sure she didn't get her devices infected with malware while trying to copy data /off/ the Mar-a-largo computers?

    1. BebopWeBop
      Joke

      I am sure that Trump can pass on far more 'interesting' malware given his habits

  2. ratfox
    Devil

    I like the part where people let her in because she had the same family name as a club member: Zhang

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Yes, and a resort manager the pre-empts Secret Service thinking she could have been maybe, perhaps, if he/she remembers well, and if not wrong a relative of a club member. so she should be let in... never take the chance of offending some rich member of the club, even in the name of national security...

      I wonder who handles the nuke suitcase when Trump is in Florida...

      1. Thunderpants
        Joke

        Probably the same person that substituted the nuke bag for the fake one with the toy big red button given to Trump when he won the election.

  3. harmjschoonhoven

    Arrest anybody

    who is asking directions to the swimming pool armed with four cellphones, a laptop computer, an external hard drive device and a thumb drive.

    BTW You can definitely swim without a swimsuit.

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Arrest anybody

      Definitely! - The thought of anyone using that equipment to make a candid video of Trump in the pool is horrific! Uploading it to YouTube would be a crime against humanity!!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Arrest anybody

      Backups. Redundancy. Those are IT best practices, no?

      Sure, you could say 4 smartphones is overkill redundancy, but if you must have two SIMs (work and personal), then that's perfectly normal.

      Portable hard drives tend to break when dropped, a feature carried over from regular hard drives. That thumb drive is a nice backup. But let's keep the expenses down and don't buy two thumb drives.

      And the laptop because how else are you supposed to use Word/Writer at the pool within the United Nations Chinese American Association conference? And how do you expect to answer e-mails too? Nobody can real on small smartphone screens... especially at the pool.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Arrest anybody

      Well, hard to hide all that stuff while wearing a swimsuit... but the thumb drive.

      But are we sure that women in a Trump property are required to wear a swimsuit?

  4. GrumpyKiwi

    Malware, schmalware

    If my AV logs are right, it would have been more unusual to have a USB stick that DIDN'T have malware on it.

    1. whitepines
      Angel

      Re: Malware, schmalware

      You know you've hit the right level of viral ecosystem evolution when you insert the drive and several dozen unrelated nasties try to take over the (inevitably Windows) machine, fighting each other for dominance. The victor then merges bits of the other into itself and grows stronger, ergo a new strain of A/V resistant malware emerges.

      Hey, if it works for bacteria and immunocompromised organisms...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Malware, schmalware

      I never have that problem. The first thing I do is reformat them so they're no longer in (Ex)FAT format or NTFS, and secondly I rarely use Windows. It's not impossible to infect other platforms, but it's more work. USB infections, for instance, don't get to auto-play.

    3. Baldrickk

      Re: Malware, schmalware

      I'm yet to ever have a USB that has thrown red flags from the AV. That said, I typically only use them between machines I trust, and typically said USB is a memory card in a USB reader that has only ever been in my home PC and my camera.

      My work has been pretty good at drumming safety into us - "Don't use a USB picked up in the carpark" etc.

      Was given one at a ((internal) work) conference years ago, and it's still sitting in my misc box awaiting formatting if I ever feel the need to use it.

  5. Giovani Tapini

    Sounds unproffesional all round

    She "may be the daughter of..." letting someone in... social engineering, no she wasn't even pretending, but the guy wasn't even sure of her identity so no talent on either side.

    My experience of Chinese IT the presence of malware is common, not necessarily intentional.

    This sounds like a chain of amateur screw-ups being blown up out of proportion to divert the inevitable blamestorming...

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Sounds unprofessional all round

      Yes, it sounds weird. What on earth would any miscreant want with so much kit simply walking up to the entrance.

      "Zhang produced two Chinese passports displaying her photo." Why produce TWO passports?

      "Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing in Beijing on Wednesday: 'I have no understanding of the situation you mention.' " That seems a reasonable statement even if she is a Chinese agent.

      Tin foil hat Conspiracy Theory: It's someone [American?] that hired her and set her up to make the Chinese Government look bad?

      "In a court filing on Tuesday, a public defender representing Zhang said she was invoking her right to remain silent." A good plan when you have already demonstrated idiocy. What exactly can she be charged with on the evidence? She was LET in without being searched or anyone qualified to decide explaining who she might me. She didn't use any of the equipment?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Sounds unprofessional all round

        "Why produce TWO passports?"

        Simple. Two are twice as good as one.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: "Why produce TWO passports?"

          2FA?

      2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        Re: Sounds unprofessional all round

        @Mage - "Why produce TWO passports?"

        Maybe it was an expired passport with a current visa, and the matching new passport.

        Or real passport and spy cover identity passport ;-)

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sounds unprofessional all round

        Or, we haven't been given all the information; that she had the telltale spy equipment, a newspaper with eye holes cut out.

        ( Meanwhile the real spies were sneaking in round the back )

      4. JetSetJim

        Re: Sounds unprofessional all round

        > Why produce TWO passports?

        It's moderately common among business travellers - one to be sent off for a visa for trip N+1 while away on trip N. Alternatively to stop a country from seeing you've been somewhere they don't like - e.g. it used to be the case with Israel and some Arab nations, although I've heard now that Israel puts the stamp on a piece of paper stapled into your passport, which can therefore easily be removed.

    2. Blazde
      Holmes

      Re: Sounds unproffesional all round

      Clearly she was the bumbling accomplice whose assignment was to distract guards with promises of naked swimming and then trigger a mild security panic, all while the prime slipped in and out cleanly.

  6. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    5 years ...

    and all she did was say "can I come in?" and they let her in to "a restricted area" - whatever one of those is defined to be.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: 5 years ...

      Yep, 5 years for trespass. She should have quickly put on a police uniform and killed a black man, they would have let her go.

    2. Captain Badmouth
      Thumb Up

      Re: 5 years ...

      "a restricted area" - whatever one of those is defined to be.

      The hamberder stall, innit?

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "There is no indication ... that she got anywhere close to the president, who was staying at the club"

    She's female and didn't get close to Trump? Unbelievable!

  8. batfink Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Maybe unaccompanied young asian ladies are common?

    Now let me get this straight: an unaccompanied asian woman turns up apparently for a bash at the resort organised by Ms Yang, a "former massage parlour owner". She's a bit cagey about what she's there for. The asian woman gets stopped at the gate, then a resort employee turns up and maybe thinks "There's a woman here for one of Ms Yang's bashes, without a good story. Hmm: Ms Yang, former massage parlour owner, unaccompanied asian lady at gate, 2+2=4, I think I know why this lady might be here, better let her in"...

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Maybe unaccompanied young asian ladies are common?

      That...actually makes a lot of sense.

    2. Velv
      Joke

      Re: Maybe unaccompanied young asian ladies are common?

      "2+2=4"

      Oh, its one of THOSE parties...

      1. LucreLout
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Maybe unaccompanied young asian ladies are common?

        Oh, its one of THOSE parties...

        What is the mandarin/cantonese for Bunga Bunga?

        1. LDS Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Maybe unaccompanied young asian ladies are common?

          Trumpa-Trumpa, probably...

  9. phuzz Silver badge
    Meh

    Well, someone's intelligence organisation is having budget problems, because it's 'only' $200,000 + $14,000 per year to buy membership there, which presumably entitles one to use the pool whenever one feels like it.

    Perhaps Ms Zhang was taking Groucho Marx's advice "I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member".

  10. dervheid

    Mar-a Lago

    I always think it sounds like the name of a particularly unbelievable Bond villain's lair: Maga Wallbuilder

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Mar-a Lago

      It always reminds me of a character from Monkey Island (2 as it turns out).

  11. Crisp

    "Making false statements to a federal officer"

    And that's how they get you.

    You might have done absolutely nothing wrong until you start answering questions.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: "Making false statements to a federal officer"

      Fake statements!

    2. Eddy Ito

      Re: "Making false statements to a federal officer"

      ^This.

      Of course the alleged "ambiguous nod" to the resort manager's suggestion that she was the daughter of a member is probably one trigger after she said she wanted to "go to the pool", not necessarily "use the pool" as suggested in this article.

      That said, there are a number of other oddities in the story. It seems there was a similarly named event scheduled for that day but it had been canceled so it's entirely plausible that was merely a miscommunication and she could equally have thought that Trump would be attending or speaking at the cancelled event.

      More interesting to me is that the passports are said to be from the ROC (Republic of China) a.k.a. Taiwan and not the PRC. Of course that doesn't rule out her being in Shanghai when her friend "Charles" invited her to Palm Beach and it's highly likely the only thing she did wrong was answering questions without a lawyer. Folks have to learn you can't talk your way through these situations because all you're doing is giving them more ammunition.

      No need to worry, it will be blown out of any reasonable proportion as pols try to use it for political gain then it will fade away once they figure out it was largely a misunderstanding and/or miscommunications on Ms Zhang's part and they'll lock her up for 5 years anyway.

  12. Daedalus

    I have no words

    1. Zhang is the third most common name in China, a land where a few names cover a good part of the population. Imagine letting in someone called "Smith" because they had the same name as a member. I suppose "Brown" would be the closer equivalent in the UK.

    2. She was obviously out of place. Can you say "Decoy" ?

    3. There was this German-sounding guy with an Asian caddie who wore a funny looking bowler hat.....

  13. Pen-y-gors

    Chinese passports?

    That's just silly. If she'd had a couple of Russian passports, no problem.

  14. FrankeeD

    'Malicious malware'

    My favourite part of the description of what supposedly happened was, ""A preliminary forensic examination of the thumb drive determined it contained malicious malware," the complaint said.'

    Presumably, 'malicious malware' is the evil twin of the kinder, gentler 'benevolent malware.'

    1. RuffianXion

      Re: 'Malicious malware'

      Sounds like a case for the Department of Redundancy Department.

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