A former Twitter security chief-turned-whistleblower has testified that the social media company mislead its users and US regulators about the gaps in its security.
Well-known hacker Peiter Zatko made the revelations in a testimony at the Market Watchdog Securities and Exchange Commission that could impact the courts fight over Space X and Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s buyout bid.
TechCrunch reports Zatko was recruited by Twitter to head up the company’s security division in late-2020, months after a very public breach saw hackers hijack the Twitter accounts of some of the world’s most famous people, including Joe Biden and Musk.
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Zatko also claims that the social media giant underestimated how fake and spam accounts affect its platform.
This has been a key element in Musk’s argument for trying to cancel his deal to own the social media platform.
He also alleges in the complaint that Twitter lacked basic security controls saying thousands of employee laptops contained complete copies of Twitter’s source code.
Zatko also revealed that about one-third of those devices blocked automatic security fixes, had system firewalls turned off and had remote desktop access enabled for non-approved purposes.
Zatko also accused the company of failing to actively monitor what employees were doing on their computers.
As a result, “employees were repeatedly found to be intentionally installing spyware on their work computers at the request of external organisations.
Twitter spokesperson Madeline Broas told TechCrunch Zatko was fired from his senior executive role at the social media company in January 2022 for ineffective leadership and poor performance.
Zatko’s complaint is another twist for the San Francisco-based Twitter as it tries to ensure its corporate survival.
Twitter has been embroiled for months in a struggle with Musk, the world’s richest man, as he has blown hot and cold over owning the social media service, raising questions about its future as an independent entity.