Twitter misled federal regulators about its defenses against hackers and spam accounts.
This was disclosed by the social media company’s former security chief Peiter Zatko said in an 84-page whistleblower complaint. The complaint, which was first published by the Washington Post and CNN, was also sent to congressional committees.
Zatko, a famed hacker more widely known as “Mudge,” alleged Twitter misrepresented its security measures and claimed he had forewarned colleagues that half of the company’s servers were running outdated and vulnerable software.
The whistleblower filing comes as Twitter is embroiled in a legal battle with Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk for ending a deal to buy the company for $44 billion.
Musk accused Twitter of hiding information about how it calculates the percentage of bots on the service. While the binding acquisition agreement that Musk signed with Twitter in April did not include any bot-related exemptions, the billionaire claims that the number of bots on the platform affect the user experience and that having more bots than previously known could therefore impact the company’s long-term value. The trial is scheduled for Oct. 17. 2022.
What you should know.
Based on reports, Zatko stated that Twitter’s executives misled their own board and government regulators about the company’s security flaws, some of which might potentially allow for foreign espionage, hacking, and disinformation campaigns.
In addition, the whistleblower claims that Twitter has misled regulators about whether it reliably deletes user data as required and that the firm sometimes fails to do so because it has lost track of the information.
The whistleblower further claims that Twitter officials lacked the motivation and resources to fully comprehend the scope of the bot problem on the service. Elon Musk’s latest attempts to back out of a $44 billion purchase agreement for the company have become heavily reliant on bots (although Twitter disputes Musk’s assertions).
It’s important to mention that Twitter fired Zatko in January, allegedly due to his subpar performance, according to the firm. However, Zatko claims that his attempt to alert Twitter’s board of the security flaws and to assist Twitter in resolving years-old technical issues and claimed non-compliance with a prior privacy agreement with the Federal Trade Commission led to his public whistleblowing.
“We are reviewing the redacted claims that have been published but what we have seen so far is a false narrative that is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies, and presented without important context,” Twitter Chief Executive Parag Agrawal told employees in a memo tweeted by a CNN reporter and confirmed by Twitter.