Twitter’s former head of security Peiter Zatko has filed an explosive whistleblower complaint at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States accusing the company of concealing “extreme, egregious deficiencies” in its effort to preserve users’ safety against cyber-attacks, and reduce spam and other fraudulent practices by the company’s CEO and executives.
Currently, Twitter is engaged in a legal battle with Tesla CEO Elon Musk over his withdrawal from the company’s $44 billion acquisition deal because of the large number of bots, and fake or spam accounts on the platform.
In its lawsuit filing against Musk, Twitter argued that the billionaire used “spam-related evidence to assert a baseless claim of breach of his contract” and called his existing strategy pinned on spam on the app a “model of hypocrisy”. However, Zatko refuted his former employer’s claims and said that the company puts in little effort to fight spam and deceived the federal regulators.
Twitter denies all allegations of misconduct levied by the former head of security
According to The Washington Post, Zatko has filed his whistleblower complaint at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), along with the FTC.
He has accused the Twitter executives of deceiving federal regulators and the company’s board of directors about “extreme, egregious deficiencies” in its defenses against hackers to protect its 238 million daily users which includes government agencies, heads of state, and other influential public figures.
He called out Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal for lying that the company was “strongly incentivized” for the detection and removal of spam.
Among the most serious accusations in the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, is that Twitter violated the terms of an 11-year-old settlement with the Federal Trade Commission by falsely claiming that it had a solid security plan.
Zatko’s complaint alleges he had warned colleagues that half the company’s servers were running out-of-date and vulnerable software and that executives withheld dire facts about the number of breaches and lack of protection for user data, instead presenting directors with rosy charts measuring unimportant changes.
However, the company has denied Zatko’s allegations. Twitter’s spokesperson Rebecca Hahn told the publisher that Zatko only made the allegations because he wanted revenge for being fired for “poor performance and leadership”.
[He] now appears to be opportunistically seeking to inflict harm on Twitter, its customers, and its shareholders.” She said the 84-page complaint was “riddled with inaccuracies.”
Hahn said that Twitter security and privacy had been revamped in 2020, while the company removed more than a million spam accounts per day.
Elon Musk’s lawyers subpoena Twitter whistleblower
Musk’s lawyers seek some weight in Zatko’s accusations and have issued a subpoena to speak to him regarding the claims. Maybe, Zatko can provide Musk with the data he needs to prove the uncontrollable bots issue on Twitter.
NEW: Musk lawyer Alex Spiro said they want to talk to Twitter whistleblower.
“We have already issued a subpoena for Mr. Zatko, and we found his exit and that of other key employees curious in light of what we have been finding.”
— Donie O'Sullivan (@donie) August 23, 2022