Twitter whistleblower Zatko makes shocking claims before US Senate
Peiter "Mudge" Zatko, Twitter's former head of cybersecurity turned whistleblower, has put the company in a tough spot with his testimony before the US Congress. Before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the cybersecurity veteran talked about Twitter's lax security measures and vulnerabilities. Zatko's 84-page complaint on Twitter's security issues first became public in August. The company, however, has consistently denied the allegations.
- Twitter is reeling under pressure from different corners. The US government, Zatko, Musk...the list goes on.
- Out of all of them, it is Zatko's allegations that have got everyone riled. If his claims are true, it raises a lot of questions about Twitter's business practices and its commitment to protecting users' privacy.
- We will soon see how this saga turns out.
Zatko opened his damning testimony by saying that Twitter was "a decade behind industry security standards." He went on to assert that the company's lax security practices make it vulnerable to both inside and outside threats. He added that "half the company" are engineers who have access to users' personal information. Zatko expressed his concerns about how a rogue employee can use this data.
About a question on how Twitter's vulnerabilities affect national security, Zatko said that identity thieves and government spies can easily harm users. He doubled down on his claim by adding that India had placed a spy as an employee in the company. Zatko added that it is likely that China has also infiltrated the company. He said, "Because it's very difficult to detect them."
Zatko's testimony comes at a time when US lawmakers are trying to reign in tech giants. Twitter, with its 237.8 million daily active users, has escaped the antitrust scrutiny its much bigger peers face until now. However, the allegations by Zatko, who was fired by the company in January, will lead to the company's decisions and policies being picked apart in public.
Twitter is in a rather sensitive spot right now. The company is fighting a legal battle with Elon Musk over his decision to back out of the deal to acquire the social media platform. A trial is set to begin at a Delaware court in the coming weeks to ascertain whether Musk was in the right to do so or not.
The Musk-Twitter saga took a turn for the worse after the microblogging platform reported that the number of bots is less than 5% of its user base. This irked Musk who believed that there are more than 5% bots/spam accounts on Twitter. After several back and forth discussions, the billionaire terminated the contract to buy Twitter citing "misleading" statements about the issue.
There are chances that Zatko's allegations could affect the company's offensive against Musk. A judge recently allowed Musk's legal team to use Zatko's allegations in their defense against Twitter. When asked whether he would buy Twitter, Zatko laughed and said, "depends on the price." Twitter filed the suit to force Musk to complete the $44 billion deal.
Twitter has denied Zatko's claims, saying that they are "riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies." The company has also said that Zatko lost his job because of his ineffective leadership and poor performance. A member of the committee said that Parag Agrawal, Twitter's CEO, declined to attend the hearing. Twitter is yet to comment on Zatko's Senate testimony.