The Secret Service is pushing back against assertions its agents are “incompetent to carry out forensic examinations on digital media,” The Hill reports.
It comes following reports an agent inserted an unknown thumb drive into his computer after confiscating it from a 32-year-old Chinese woman who attempted to sneak onto President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in West Palm Beach, Florida in late March
Secret Service agent Samuel Ivanovich, who arrested Yujing Zhang, testified Monday when an agency analyst inserted the USB into his computer, it immediately started installing malware. The analyst, he said, “had to immediately stop the analysis and shut off” the computer to stop the corruption.
A Secret Service spokesperson said in a released statement the agency’s Electronic Crimes Special Agent Program (ECSAP) “is internationally recognized” and there are special agents who “receive extensive training in computer forensics and undergo a rigorous certification process.”
“Forensic examinations conducted by these personnel are done in accordance with U.S. Secret Service standard operating policies and procedures,” the spokesperson added. “Secret Service forensic examinations are conducted on standalone computers, equipped with specialized forensic software, which are not connected to Secret Service networks.”
Computer security professionals criticized Ivanovich for the move.
Zhang’s defense attorney Tuesday presented evidence Zhang thought she was attending a United Nations Chinese American Association event and she paid a man just over $20,000 to appear.
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