Twitter’s Whistle Blower, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, former head of security at Twitter, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on data security at Twitter, on Capitol Hill, September 13, 2022, in Washington, DC.
Twitter’s head of security told congress that Twitter allegedly hired Chinese spies, thus allowing hackers, and foreign agents to infiltrate.
“Twitter leadership is misleading the public, lawmakers, regulators and even its own board of directors,” Peiter Zatko testified during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “The company’s cybersecurity failures make it vulnerable to exploitation, causing real harm to real people.”
Zatko, who is as well known by his hacker name, Mudge, was hired at Twitter in 2020 to lead Twitter’s security after teenage hackers had taken over several verified accounts, and then was fired in January of this year.
Zatko filed an 84- page whistleblower complaint alleging that Twitter had ignored the company’s major security vulnerabilities and had misrepresented the number of “bots,” or fake accounts, on the platform.
Twitter failed to follow basic conventions and did not properly safeguard staff access to software, which deletes closed accounts and updates security software on their company laptops and servers.
Zatko, had accused Twitter of misleading the federal regulators about its progress toward securing the privacy and security of its users’ accounts after they had their most recent hack.
The complaint adds that Twitter’s policy toward fake accounts incentivized “deliberate ignorance” by undercounting spam accounts and providing bonuses to executives for growing the number of users on the platform, but not sniffing out bots.
Twitter’s security vulnerabilities make the platform vulnerable to foreign spies, hacking, and disinformation campaigns, Zatko further alleges.
The complaint comes at a sensitive time for Twitter, which is preparing for a high-profile legal battle to compel billionaire Elon Musk to buy the company after he agreed to a $44 billion purchase deal.
Musk is attempting to back out of the deal with Twitter to purchase them, claiming Twitter was not forthcoming about the number of bots and spam accounts that are currently active daily users on its platform – which the social media company has strongly denied.
Twitter and Musk’s dispute is scheduled to go to trial on Oct. 17th.