Sunday, October 2

The former Twitter security chief denounces numerous failures and turns his trial against Musk upside down

The road to the trial between Twitter and Elon Musk has taken a turn this Tuesday. The company’s former head of security, who was fired in January, has made public a series of complaints that he has sent to the US Congress and the country’s stock market regulator about numerous irregularities on the platform. These range from security flaws in the moderation of bots and false profiles such as those that Musk has denounced to the possible presence of foreign spies infiltrated in the Twitter staff.

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The complaints sent in July describe a chaotic environment in the departments that must control the toxicity of the platform, with too many workers with access to key tools and sensitive user information without control by the platform. They also assure that several senior Twitter executives are aware of the situation and have tried to cover it up before the authorities.

The former security chief of Twitter has revealed to be the author of these alerts in separate information from Washington Post and the CNN, who have published the documents and detailed their content. This is Peiter Zatko, a hacker with a career of more than 30 years in the cybersecurity sector who worked for the US government before taking charge of Twitter’s security. His wife is a high-ranking NSA official, the country’s security agency.

The social network ensures that everything Zatko says is false. In addition, it warns about the moment in which his former head of security has decided to bring to light his complaints about the situation of his former company. “Mr. Zatko was fired from his position as a senior executive at Twitter in January 2022 for his ineffective leadership and his poor performance,” says a spokeswoman in a statement sent to

“What we have seen so far is a false narrative about Twitter and our privacy and security practices that is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lacks context,” the same sources continue: “Mr. Zatko’s accusations and the right time to bring them They just seem designed to grab attention and inflict harm on Twitter, its customers, and its shareholders. Security and privacy have long been company priorities at Twitter and will continue to be so.”

Key moment

Zatko’s move — known as “Mudge,” his former hacker pseudonym, as he uncovered numerous security holes — comes at a key time for Elon Musk. This ensures that Twitter is lying in its official communications about the presence of bots on the platform and that its method of detecting them is negligent. It is the reason he has alleged to cancel the agreement signed to buy the social network for 44,000 million dollars, although most analysts agree that he has not provided evidence of any of it to convince the judge who will take the case.

With the revelations of the former Twitter security chief, the scenario for Musk changes diametrically. Zatko denounces that Twitter has “extreme and appalling deficiencies” both when it comes to protecting user information from cyberattacks and the integrity of the platform, whose biggest problem is fake accounts.

Zatko was hired by Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey in 2020. He was fired by his successor, Parag Agrawal. The differences with the latter seem to motivate some of the hacker’s most serious complaints. “Agrawal’s tweets and previous Twitter blog posts misleadingly imply that Twitter employs proactive and sophisticated systems to measure and block spam bots,” he alleges. “The reality: It’s mostly simple, outdated, unsupervised scripts, plus overworked, inefficient, understaffed, and reactive human teams.”

The lack of control by Twitter has led Zatko to warn that there could even be intelligence agents from foreign countries with access to the social network’s security systems.

These complaints have been very well received by Musk and his legal team. Alex Spiro, Musk’s lawyer, told CNN: “We have already issued a subpoena for Mr. Zatko, and we found his departure and that of other key employees curious in light of what we have been finding.”

Zatko is receiving support from Whistleblower Aid, an organization created to represent leakers of this type of information and which also defended Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen. John Tye, founder of Whistleblower Aid and Zatko’s attorney, told CNN that the hacker has not been in contact with Musk. He further claims that Zatko began the complaint process before there was any indication that the billionaire had an interest in buying Twitter.