Twitter misled US regulators about hackers, spam, whistleblower

Twitter misled US regulators about hackers, spam, whistleblower
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August 23 (Reuters) – Twitter Inc. (TWTR.N) Peiter Zatko, the social media company’s former head of security, said in a whistleblower complaint that he misled federal regulators in his defense against hackers and spam accounts.

In an 84-page complaint, Zatko, a notorious hacker commonly known as “Mudge”, claimed that Twitter has a solid security plan, according to documents cited by congressional researchers. Shares of Twitter closed at $39.86, down 7.3%.

The document alleges that Twitter prioritizes user growth rather than reducing spam, and that administrators are eligible to earn individual bonuses of up to $10 million based on the increase in daily user numbers, and has clearly done nothing to reduce spam.

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Twitter described the complaint as “false narrative”. The social media company is battling Elon Musk in court after the world’s richest person tried to pull out of a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter. Musk said he did not elaborate on the prevalence of bots and spam accounts.

Tesla Inc. (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Officer Musk had offered to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share and said he believed it could become a global platform for freedom of expression.

Twitter and Musk sued each other, and Twitter asked the Delaware Chancellor’s Court judge to order Musk to close the settlement. A hearing is scheduled for October. 17.

Zatko filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), as well as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice, last month. The complaint was also sent to congressional committees.

“We are reviewing the corrected claims that have been published, but what we have seen so far is a false narrative full of inconsistencies and inaccuracies,” Twitter Chief Executive Parag Agrawal said in a note to employees.

Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the complaint raises serious national security and privacy concerns and should be investigated.

“Take a technology platform that collects massive amounts of user data, combine that with an incredibly weak security infrastructure, and infuse foreign state actors with an agenda and you have a recipe for disaster,” he said. .

The FTC declined to comment. A Senate Intelligence Committee spokesperson said he received the complaint and called a meeting to discuss the allegation.

Howard Fischer, a Moses & Singer partner and a former SEC attorney, said Twitter’s real regulatory risk lies in whether documentary evidence shows investors or regulators “knowingly or recklessly misleading”.


Musk could not be reached for comment, but did react on Twitter with memes and emojis of a robot. Musk’s legal team summoned Zatko to court, CNN reported after the whistleblower’s disclosure was made public.

American hackers have admired Zatko since the 1990s, who is credited with inventing a tool to crack passwords. He then used his hacking skills to become a sought-after security consultant and moved into senior government and board positions alongside other rebel technicians of the era.

The whistleblower document says so after January. In the 6 uprising, the incoming Biden administration offered him “an appointed day’s position as Chief Information Security Officer for the United States,” but he declined.

Cybersecurity leaders have expressed broad support for Zatko, with many denouncing Twitter’s reaction to his disclosures.

Robert Lee, founder of industrial cybersecurity firm Dragos, said on Twitter that “it’s one of those very rare times depending on who you are”. “If Mudge makes such a claim, he deserves investigation.”

on Twitter in January aforementioned Two years after being appointed to the role, Zatko was no longer chief of security.

On Tuesday, a Twitter spokesperson said Zatko was fired for “ineffective leadership and poor performance”, adding that his allegations were designed to draw attention and harm to Twitter, its customers and shareholders.

Zatko’s lawyers, Debra Katz and Alexis Ronickher, said in a statement that during his tenure at Twitter, he repeatedly raised concerns about inadequate information security systems to the company’s board, CEO and board of directors. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment on this statement.

(This story fixes the closing price and removes the unnecessary percent symbol in the second paragraph)

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Chavi Mehta, Ankur Banerjee and Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru, Peter Henderson in Oakland and Raphael Satter in Washington; additional reporting by Rick Cowan in Washington; Written by Ankur Banerjee; Editing by Kenneth Li, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Sriraj Kalluvila and David Gregorio

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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