Claims football given to Trump was bugged 'over exaggerated', says security expert

Friday, July 27, 2018

The football given to Donald Trump by Vladimir Putin was chipped with an Adidas promotional chip, says a security expert.

It was reported that the Russian president had bugged the ball given to the US president, which could be used to send information and hack nearby mobile phones.

James Whale was joined by security expert Will Geddes on talkRADIO, who has said the story has been “over exaggerated” and that all the footballs from the World Cup are all chipped for promotional use.

However, he did say that the chip could be hacked and tampered with to allow it to “have various usages”.

 “I’d say that this particular story might be a little bit tad over exaggerated, having said that the chip that’s in this football could have various usages if it was tampered with,” he said.

The football given to Trump was a replica of the Adidas AB ball that was used during the World Cup that was held in Russia over the summer.

“This is particular football, is the Adidas AG Ball and as far as I last checked, it’s still available on the Adidas website.

“It’s a football that has a chip under the logo, which is equipped with a NFC - a Near Field Communication - which is a special promotional tool that will send nearby phones information about football results, advertising and lots of football related content.

“The point is for football enthusiast to get lots of unique content that Adidas will provide them, so it was very much a promotional item of the World Cup.”

Despite its promotional uses, the chip inside the football has been hacked before in the past and could affect android mobile phones if tampered with.

“This NFC had been hacked previously in 2015 by a hacker who was able to connect to a nearby android phone, not an iOS apple phone, and was able to actually send, or in theory send, a malicious link to that particular android phone.”

Asked whether the US secret service would examine the ball before taking it anywhere confidential, the security expert expects the football would’ve been checked before leaving the Helsinki summit.

“Standard drills genuinely see the item passed to someone within the secret service detailed with protecting him [Trump], who would’ve run it by their incumbent TSCM team which is their Technical Surveillance Counter Measures team.

“They would’ve checked it and made sure nothing precarious was in it.”