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That soccer ball Putin gave Trump may have contained a transmitter chip



Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a soccer ball to U.S. President Donald Trump in Helsinki.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a soccer ball to U.S. President Donald Trump in Helsinki.

Image: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Surprise! That very innocent soccer ball Russian President Vladimir Putin gifted Donald Trump during their Helsinki summit last week (yes, that was just last week, folks) may not be so innocent. 

Bloomberg is reporting that the soccer ball may contain an embedded NFC (Near Field Communication) chip. 

The ball, which is produced by Adidas, is typically embedded with a chip that allows it to communicate with nearby devices, such as phones and tablets. Once connected with a device, the chip allows fans to access “exclusive information about the product, Adidas football content, special competitions and challenges, etc,” according to Adidas. 

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9763104b) Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin. Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, gives a soccer ball to U.S. President Donald Trump, left, during a press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland Trump Putin Summit, Helsinki, Finland - 16 Jul 2018

Image: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/REX/Shutterstock

While it’s unclear if this exact ball contained the chip or was tampered with by the Russians in any way, photos from the event clearly show the chip’s logo, which is where it is placed inside the ball.

Adidas declined to comment to Bloomberg on whether or not the NFC chip could be used by the Russians to hack nearby devices, such as Trump’s reportedly risky phones. The White House also declined to say if the ball was modified, or where the gift would be kept. The ball did undergo a routine security screening by the U.S. Secret Service, the AP reports.  

While Adidas notes on its website that the chip is “passive,” it’s probably just not worth the risk. It was, after all, given to the president by the leader of Russia, a country who is no stranger to all sorts of hacking — including the 2016 U.S. election. 

However, as Bloomberg notes and Forbes reported in 2015, “an engineer used an NFC chip to send a nearby Android phone a request to open a link that — if the user agreed to open it — installed a malicious file that took over the phone.”

Sorry, but I don’t trust anyone in government to be tech savvy enough to not fall for such an attack. Hell, they’re falling left and right for pranks from Sacha Baron Cohen

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