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Business News/ News / World/  ‘Twitter prioritizes profit over security’: Peter 'Mudge' Zatko testifies to Congress

Twitter's former security chief Peter ‘Mudge’ Zatko on Tuesday began testifying to Congress. Zatko, a respected cybersecurity expert, a famed hacker, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to lay out his allegations, AP reported. 

The whistleblower at Twitter informed that the micro-blogging platform is plagued by weak cyber defences, privacy threats and the inability to control millions of fake accounts. Zatko's claims stated that the security lapses in Twitter were so big that they threatened national security. 

“Twitter is misleading the public, lawmakers and regulators," Peter “Mudge" Zatko, informed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Zatko said that Twitter Inc's leadership ‘prioritized profit over security’. He said ‘Twitter leadership ignored its engineers,’ in part because ‘their executive incentives led them to prioritize profit over security.’

His message echoed one brought to Congress against another social media giant last year, but unlike that Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, Zatko hasn't brought troves of internal documents to back up his claims.

The platform is “over a decade behind the industry's best standard," he said, also describing the situation as “ticking bomb of security vulnerabilities.". “This is a big deal for all of us. They don’t know what data they have, where it lives and where it came from and so, unsurprisingly, they can’t protect it. It doesn't matter who has keys if there are no locks," Zatko said.

Zatko was the head of security for the influential micro-blogging platform, Twitter, until he was fired early this year.

Zatko was the head of security for the influential platform until he was fired early this year. Later Zatko filed a whistleblower complaint in July with the Congress, the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The most serious accusations made by Zatko include the claim that Twitter violated the terms of a 2011 FTC settlement by falsely claiming that it had put stronger measures in place to protect the security and privacy of its users.

Senators are clearly alarmed, reported AP

Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who heads the Judiciary Committee, said Zatko has detailed flaws “that may pose a direct threat to Twitter's hundreds of millions of users as well as to American democracy."

“Twitter is an immensely powerful platform and can't afford gaping vulnerabilities," he said.

Twitter has however, denied Zatko's allegation citing that they are uncorroborated. Twitter has called Zatko’s description of events “a false narrative ... riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies" and lacking important context.

Zatko's claims could also affect Tesla billionaire Elon Musk's attempt to back out of his $44 billion deal to acquire the social platform. Musk claims that Twitter has long underreported spam bots on its platform and cites that as a reason to nix the deal he struck in April.

Zatko also accuses the company of deception in its handling of automated “spam bots," or fake accounts. That allegation is at the core of billionaire tycoon Elon Musk’s attempt to back out of his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter.

Disclosures from a former Twitter Inc executive turned whistleblower show that at least one Chinese agent is working at the company, Senator Chuck Grassley said in his opening remarks during a Senate hearing on Tuesday featuring testimony from the whistleblower, according to Reuters.

Later on Tuesday, Twitter will also announce the results of a shareholder vote on Tesla CEO Elon Musk's takeover of the company. A majority of shareholders have already approved the deal, a report on Reuters claimed.

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Updated: 13 Sep 2022, 08:53 PM IST
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