When Russian President Vladimir Putin gifted Donald Trump a soccer ball at their July 16 “summit” meeting in Helsinki, Finland, he may have been offering something more than a gesture of goodwill. In fact, the man who United States intelligence agencies say ordered the Russian cyber-attack on the 2016 election, as the Inquisitr reported, may have planted a bug on Trump.
At least that is one possibility raised by a report from Bloomberg News on Wednesday, a report that reveals the soccer ball handed by Putin to Trump — as seen in the photograph above on this page — contained a tiny electronic chip designed to transmit data to mobile devices.
The chip comes as a standard feature of the ball, manufactured by Adidas, that “allows fans to access player videos, competitions and other content by bringing their mobile devices close to the ball. The feature is included in the 2018 FIFA World Cup match ball that’s sold on the Adidas website for $165 (reduced to $83 in the past week),” Bloomberg reported.
“The device could, however, hypothetically be used to install malware on a nearby phone,” according to a report by The Daily Beast online magazine — though to do so would be a difficult process and would require Trump to make a series of careless technical errors.
On the other hand, Trump has displayed an attitude toward electronic security that can be described as casual at best. Earlier this year, as Politico reported, White House officials revealed that Trump routinely used a non-secured iPhone, and refused to switch it out for a secure, encrypted version because it would be “too inconvenient” to do so.
Even before the presence of the chip was revealed, the soccer ball worried even a top Republican senator.
“If it were me, I’d check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House,” wrote South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham on his Twitter account on July 16, the same day that Trump received the 2018 FIFA World Cup model soccer ball from Putin.
Bloomberg’s report said that it was unclear what the capabilities of the chip inside the ball would be, though it was designed for a narrow, commercial use.
“While the logo on the ball advertised the presence of the chip, it couldn’t be determined from the photos whether the chip might have been removed, replaced with actual spy gear, or, even more remotely, whether the entire ball itself was fabricated for the event and only resembled the Adidas model in question,” the report stated.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that the ball was subjected to “the security screening process that is done for all gifts,” according to the New York Daily News. But Sanders refused to say what, if anything, that “screening process” revealed about the soccer ball containing a transmitter chip.