Cyber bungle at Obama hotel

Barack Obama

It may not have been a hacking, but a computer outage at the hotel where US President Barack Obama resided last week could not have come at a more inconvenient time.

The president flew to San Francisco on Thursday to preach the benefits of better corporate cybersecurity practices. The entire two days he was in town, the computer system at his upmarket hotel, The Fairmont, was down.

“There’s no evidence anything was hacked or compromised,” Thomas Klein, the hotel’s general manager said, noting the irony of Obama’s attendance at a cybersecurity summit at the same time.

Upon arriving, members of the president’s entourage were told the hotel’s operating system had stopped working.

Rather than swiping credit cards, they filled out paper forms.

By Saturday morning, the problem had not been fixed.

At checkout, a hotel employee took guests’ e-mail addresses to send them their receipts.

Klein said he alerted the Secret Service about the “hardware issue”.

A Secret Service spokesman declined to comment.

At Friday’s summit, Obama asked US corporate executives to cooperate more with each other and the government in defending against hackers after high-profile attacks on companies such as Sony exposed weaknesses in US cyber defences.


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