Twitter is unable to protect its users’ data because too many workers have access to that information and it does not adequately track potential infiltration by foreign agents, former company security chief Peiter “Mudge” Zatko told the United States Senate on Tuesday. Joined.
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“Twitter’s security flaws threaten national security, compromise the privacy and security of users and, on occasion, threaten the future of the company,” Zatko said during a media appearance before the Judicial Committee of the Lower House. The former executive, who worked for the social network from November 2020 until he was fired last January, assured that he repeatedly notified management about cybersecurity problems, but the company “refused to make the necessary changes to create a platform Safer”.
Zatko’s revelations have been used by billionaire Elon Musk to justify his decision to cancel the purchase of the social network, a matter that is in court.
Twitter has rejected the accusations of its former security chief, assuring that they are part of a “false narrative” against the company and that they are riddled with “inconsistencies and inaccuracies”. In addition, he claims that Zatko was fired for “ineffective leadership and” poor performance “on his assignments.
Exposed data and foreign agents
During his appearance on Tuesday, the former director stated that the company “does not know how much information it has, where it has it and where it comes from, so it cannot protect it.”
According to an internal study cited by Zatko, the company only knows what it uses 20% of the information it collects from users, such as emails, phone numbers or geolocation. He also explained that employees “have too much access to too much information and too many systems”. “An employee inside the company could take over the accounts of all the senators in this room,” he has pointed out.
Zatko has asserted that this insecure information management poses a “risk” to national security and American democracy, in addition to accusing the company of “deliberately misleading” regulatory agencies to hide its problems.
One of the issues that drew the most attention from lawmakers was the alleged infiltration of foreign agents from China or India into the company. Zatko has assured that Twitter does not have the mechanisms to identify foreign agents who infiltrate the company and that it only discovers them when alerted by an external agency such as the FBI.
The former head of security revealed that during his stay at the firm he was able to detect only one agent of the Indian government within the company. According to his account, when he warned another manager, he replied: “Well, if we already have one, what does it matter if we have more? Let’s keep growing the office.”
Zatko has assured that he “repeatedly” warned the company’s management about these security flaws and that he decided to report it because they did not listen to him.
Social networks in sight
The case is reminiscent of Frances Haugen, who leaked documents in which Facebook admitted that its social networks promote hate, misinformation and are harmful to the mental health of young people, which intensified the debate on the limits of the Internet.
Zatko, a famous hacker who has also worked for Google and the Stripe payment platform, denounced serious cybersecurity problems in the social network last July before the US Congress and several federal agencies. According to his complaint, to which the newspaper had access Washington Post and CNN, the company allows too many employees access to its central controls.
He also claimed that company executives have lied to regulators about security deficiencies. Zatko also maintains that Twitter does not adequately delete the data of users who cancel their accounts, sometimes because it has lost the information, and it has neither the resources nor the interest in really knowing the number of “bots” on the social network.
New chapter in the trial with Elon Musk
The issue of bots is at the center of the trial that will face Twitter and billionaire Elon Musk, after he decided to cancel the purchase of the company for 44,000 million dollars, alleging that he has not told the truth about the number of false accounts. in the social network. In fact, Elon Musk notified again on Monday the cancellation of the purchase agreement, this time using the complaints made known by Zatko.
Although the issue will go to trial in October, Twitter shareholders voted Tuesday in favor of approving the billionaire’s takeover bid to take over the company. The general director of Twitter, Parag Agrawal, was summoned before the Senate Committee but ruled out his appearance so as not to compromise the judicial process that the company has opened with Elon Musk.
In this regard, Senator Chuck Grassley replied that “the work of this committee and the protection of Americans against foreign influences is more important than the Twitter civil litigation.” Musk posted a tweet with an image of some popcorn, implying that he was watching Zatko’s appearance in the Senate.