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Twitter Downplayed Threats to User Data Alleges Whistleblower in Senate Hearing

Peiter “Mudge” Zatko testified before Congress, informing them that Twitter lacks the ability to eliminate the dangers to its users’ data. He continued by saying that there may be spies among the company’s employees.

The whistleblower recounted in his testimony a situation in which a Twitter employee ignored a problem with a spy concern. Even though it may have provided hazards to the company’s operations, the employee, according to him, downplayed the worry.

Zatko also disclosed that, before coming forward in January as a whistleblower, the FBI had warned Twitter that there were Chinese spies working for the company. However, it’s unclear at this time whether Twitter has already addressed the issue. Meanwhile, the FBI appears to be keeping quiet about the matter.

Twitter has recurring issues, according to Zatko. These can jeopardize the user data security of the firm. Furthermore, the company’s alleged incompetence in resolving the problems creates a threat to US national security.

To back up his accusations against Twitter, Zatko highlighted a number of problems. The issues raised by the whistleblower included Twitter’s improper treatment of user data, its breach of the consent agreement reached with the US Federal Trade Commission in 2011, and its decision to provide the majority of its workers access to private user data.

All of the flaws Zatko listed in front of Congress relate to Twitter’s difficulty in locating and getting rid of these threats.

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A mission for Zatko’s camp

According to Zatko’s legal aid, Alexis Ronickher, they are doing their share to keep people safe on the internet.

“Mr. Zatko is hopeful that the Committee’s work today has helped educate the public about just how dire the security and privacy situation is at Twitter and how impacted we all are by these failures. He continues to believe that through this public disclosure process, real-world harm for Twitter users may be avoided and our country’s national security better protected,” he said.

Legislators also emphasized the implications of Zatko’s charges during the session. To safeguard the people and the nation, they argued, any danger to Twitter should be taken seriously. The head of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Dick Durbin, stated that Twitter is a strong platform and should not allow its defense measures to be easily breached.

External threats to Twitter

Zatko expanded on his revelation by claiming that China and Russia may be able to eavesdrop on data stored in the US. Over 7,000 Twitter workers, according to Zatko’s testimony, have access to sensitive user information, making that information accessible if the company employed spies.

The whistleblower continued by saying that private information such as email addresses, phone numbers, IP addresses, locations, home addresses, languages, and other details might all be exploited by foreign governments for whatever reason.

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Additionally, Twitter lacks an internal system monitoring mechanism that can determine who has accessed sensitive data, which implies that any employee may do so anonymously, and the firm won’t know who it is. The perpetrator of the terrible deeds would then be difficult to identify.

“There were thousands of failed attempts to access internal systems that were happening per week, and nobody was noticing. This fundamental lack of logging inside Twitter is a remnant of being so far behind on their infrastructure and the engineering,” Zatko added.

“A Twitter engineer, understanding how the running systems and the data flows were operating, could then access and inject, or put forward, information as … any of the senators sitting here today.”


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