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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Whistleblower accuses Twitter of negligence in cyber security

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – A former chief security officer at Twitter has complained about the company’s weak cybersecurity defenses and negligence in trying to root out fake accounts that spread misinformation, according to a whistleblower complaint filed with federal officials. Accused of misleading the regulators. ,

The revelation could spell serious legal and financial problems for the social media platform, which is currently trying to force Tesla CEO Elon Musk to go through with a $44 billion offer to buy the company. Several members of Congress on Tuesday called on regulators to investigate these claims.

Peter Zatko, who was Twitter’s director of security until he was fired earlier this year, filed complaints last month with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department. The non-profit legal organization Whistleblower Aid, which collaborates with Zatco, confirmed the authenticity of a revised copy of the complaint posted by the Washington Post on its website.

“It was their last resort,” John Tye, the group’s co-founder and director of outreach, said in an interview on Tuesday. He said Zatco ceased all efforts to address his concerns within the company before being fired in January.

In the most serious of the allegations, Zatko points out that Twitter violated the terms of a 2011 agreement with the Federal Trade Commission by falsely claiming that it had implemented more stringent measures to protect the security and privacy of its users. Zatko accused the company of deceit in relation to its handling of “spam” or fake accounts, an allegation that is at the center of Musk’s attempt to reverse its takeover on Twitter.

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Shares of Twitter Inc. had fallen more than 6% at some point in Tuesday’s session.

Better known by his hacker moniker “Mudge”, Zatko is a highly respected cybersecurity expert who rose to prominence in the 1990s and later held senior positions at the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Agency and Google.

He joined Twitter under then-CEO Jack Dorsey in late 2020, the same year the company suffered an embarrassing breach from hackers who sabotaged the Twitter accounts of world leaders, celebrities and business moguls. Followers have run out of bitcoins.

Twitter said in a prepared statement on Tuesday that Zatko was fired for “ineffective leadership and poor performance” and that “the allegations and timing are intended to draw attention to and harm Twitter, its customers and its shareholders.” ” The company called its complaint a “false narrative” that is “full of inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lacks significant context.”

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Jatco’s attorneys, Debra Katz and Alexis Roniker, said Twitter’s claims about their poor performance were false and that they repeatedly expressed concerns about “information security systems” with the company’s top executives and board of directors. completely inappropriate.

Lawyers claimed that after the board received “whitewash” information about these security issues at the end of 2021, Zatco reiterated its concerns, with CEO Parag Aggarwal and a board member Omid Kordestani having “differences”, And he was fired two weeks later.

The 84-page complaint describes a dysfunctional corporate culture on Twitter that lacked effective leadership and where Jatko said top executives practiced “deliberate ignorance” to press issues. His description of Dorsey’s leadership style is particularly scandalous: He referred to the Twitter founder as “extremely different” during his last few months as CEO, even as he came across the company. He did not speak about complex issues even during meetings. Business

Zatko said he heard from aides that Dorsey could remain silent for “days or weeks”. Dorsey announced that he would step down as CEO of Twitter in November 2021.

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Associated Press writers Tom Crischer and Marcy Gordon contributed to this report.

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