News Tech: According to an explosive whistleblower disclosure received exclusively by CNN and The Washington Post, Twitter has serious security issues that endanger the personal information of its own users, firm stockholders, national security, and democracy.
Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, who once served as the organization’s head of security and reported directly to the CEO, has agreed to allow his name to be publicly disclosed as the whistleblower. Zatko further asserts that Twitter’s executives misled their own board and government regulators about the company’s security flaws, some of which might potentially allow for foreign espionage, hacking, and disinformation campaigns. In addition, the whistleblower claims that Twitter has misled regulators about whether it reliably deletes user data as required and that the firm sometimes fails to do so because it has lost track of the information.
The revelation, which was delivered to Congress and federal authorities last month, portrays a picture of a disorderly and careless workplace at a poorly run corporation that gives too many of its employees unrestricted access to the platform’s fundamental controls and most private data. Additionally, it claims that a few of the company’s senior-most officials have been attempting to hide Twitter’s significant weaknesses and that one or more present employees may be employed by a foreign intelligence agency.
The leaker further claims that Twitter officials lacked the motivation and resources to fully comprehend the scope of the bot problem on the service. Elon Musk’s latest attempts to back out of a $44 billion purchase agreement for the company have become heavily reliant on bots (although Twitter disputes Musk’s assertions).
According to the source acquainted with Zatko’s experience at the company, Twitter has internal security technologies that are periodically tested by the company and by external auditors every two years. The individual went on to say that part of Zatko’s data about device security was unreliable and was obtained by a tiny team that neglected to fully take into account Twitter’s current security measures.
However, Twitter’s security issues were known well before 2020. The FTC filed a complaint against Twitter in 2010 due to the company’s improper handling of users’ private information and the problem of an excessive number of employees having access to Twitter’s administrative tools. An FTC settlement decree that was finalised the following year as a result of the complaint required Twitter to clean up its behaviour, notably by producing and Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Agrawal, who was then Twitter’s chief technology officer, allegedly suggested to Zatko that Twitter submit to Russian requests that might lead to widespread blocking or surveillance of the platform.
The disclosure makes no mention of Agrawal’s recommendation in detail. But last summer, Russia approved a law that compelled tech companies to establish local offices there or risk advertising prohibitions. Western security analysts believed Russia was doing this to increase its control over US tech firms. Zatko claimed that even if Agrawal’s offer was ultimately rejected, it was nevertheless a troubling indication of the lengths to which Twitter was prepared to go in order to expand.
Zatko claims that he started enquiring about the predominance of bot accounts on Twitter in the early months of 2021, and Twitter’s director of site integrity informed him that the firm had no idea how many bots were actually using its platform. He claims that after speaking with the integrity team, he realised that the corporation “had no appetite to adequately evaluate the incidence of bots,” in part because the true figure may diminish the company’s worth and reputation if it were made public.
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