Peiter Zatko: A former manager accuses Twitter of “misleading” everyone with its cybersecurity problems | Economy | The USA Print


Peiter Zatko, the legendary hacker turned Twitter security chief, accused the social network of “misleading” everyone with the company’s cybersecurity problems before a US Senate committee on Tuesday. In a harsh intervention has accused the company’s directors of being aware of the problems and hiding them, making their users’ data available to espionage services and potential attackers. The accusations, already included in a complaint to the regulators that emerged a few weeks ago, come in the process of selling the company to Elon Musk. The shareholders have definitively approved the operation this Tuesday with an overwhelming majority of 98.6%, but the tycoon now refuses to buy the company citing, among others, Zatko’s accusations.

“From November 2020 to January 2022 I was a member of the Twitter management team. In my role, I was responsible for Twitter’s information security, privacy, engineering, physical security, information technology, and global support. I am here today because Twitter’s leadership is misleading public policy makers, regulators and even its own board of directors.” Zatko has begun his appearance.

According to the former manager, Twitter’s cybersecurity flaws make it vulnerable to attacks, “causing real harm to real people.” “When an influential media platform can be compromised by teens, thieves and spies, and the company repeatedly creates security issues of its own, that’s a big deal for all of us,” he said. “When I brought concrete evidence of these fundamental problems to the management team, and repeatedly sounded the alarm…the management team chose to mislead their board of directors, shareholders, legislators and the public rather than address the problems,” he said.

In part, Zatko argues, managers were ill-equipped to understand the problems. “But more importantly, their executives’ incentives led them to prioritize profit over safety,” he explained. Paraphrasing the writer Upton Sinclair, he has said, “It’s hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

The company has accused Zatko of acting out of revenge for his dismissal and says his work was unsatisfactory. Zatko denies it: “I did not make the disclosures in my complaint out of spite or to harm Twitter. Far from it, I still believe in the mission of the company and its success. But that success can only come if the privacy and security of Twitter users and the public are protected,” he noted.

a chinese spy

According to the manager, the company’s employees have too much access to all user data. He has indicated to the senators themselves that their data is at risk and has also assured that at least one member of Chinese espionage worked in the company and therefore had access to potentially compromising private data.

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal has declined to appear before the Senate committee studying Twitter’s potential security problems, claiming that this could harm the company’s interests in the midst of a legal battle against Elon Musk.

The tycoon sent a letter on July 8 saying that he was breaking the purchase agreement because Twitter had too many fake user accounts, an argument that was not very convincing and is also not supported by Zatko’s accusations. The social network has sued him before a Delaware equity court to enforce the purchase agreement of the company for about 44,000 million dollars. Subsequently, upon learning of the former security chief’s complaint, Musk sent a second breakup letter in late August saying that those complaints revealed a breach of the merger agreements. And he has yet to send a third termination letter upon learning of the $7.75 million severance pay Zatko received.

In the merger agreement, Twitter stated that it complied with the legislation in force and that it had communicated truthful information to the supervisors about its situation and its risks, which Zatko’s complaint calls into question. In the merger agreement, Twitter also guaranteed that it had disclosed “any fraud known to the company, whether material or not, involving management or other employees who have a significant role in the company’s internal control over financial reporting.” ”. Now, Musk assures that that statement was false and, therefore, a breach. Twitter responds that Zatko’s allegations “are riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lack significant context” and seeks to enforce the agreement.

The shareholders of the social network have formally approved the operation at the meeting held this Tuesday, although already this Monday the favorable votes were enough to consider it approved. An overwhelming majority of 98.6% of the shareholders who have voted have done so in favor of the sale, according to preliminary results reported by the company. Musk, who did not appear to participate in the vote, was offering $54.20 a share and the shares are trading around $41, so the choice was clear for shareholders. According to Twitter, that would force Musk to close the operation in two days, but now it will depend on the trial scheduled for the week of October 17 whether or not it takes place.

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