Twitter Whistle-Blower Will Testify Before Congress on Security Failures | Tech News

Twitter Whistle-Blower Will Testify Before Congress on Security Failures

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing featuring testimony from Twitter whistle-blower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko on Sept. 13, the panel’s leaders announced on Wednesday.

| Updated on: Aug 26 2022, 12:08 IST
TWACKED: Celebrities hacked on Twitter
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1/11 While celebrities have found a great way to connect with fans on Twitter, their online presence has also made them a vulnerable target for hackers across the globe. Here's look at celebrities who've fallen prey to hacking.
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2/11 Filmmaker Karan Johar's Twitter account was hacked recently. Instead of posting a public tweet, the imposter sent out direct messages to people. The director warned people that 'something weird was happening to his Twitter account'.
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3/11 Lil Wayne's Twitter page was illegally accessed by hackers who tweeted a series of rude messages to his celebrity pals like 50 Cent, Soulja Boy and The Game.
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4/11 Selena Gomez's Twitter and Facebook fans woke up to an uncharacteristic post about her boyfriend Justin Bieber. The venomous post screamed 'Oh yeah, JUSTIN BIEBER SUCKS!!!!!!!'.
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5/11 Kim Kardashian went into a panic mode when her Twitter account was hacked by internet pranksters. On discovering the fake tweets posted by an imposter, the socialite appealed to bosses of the site to help restore the security on her account.
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6/11 Britney Spears has faced more hacking troubles than any celeb. While the first time it was a death hoax saying, 'Britney has passed today', a few months later her whole Twitter page was taken over by hackers who replaced the background with Illuminati wallpaper and tweeted saying, 'I give myself to Lucifer every day for it to arrive as quickly as possible. Glory to Satan!'
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7/11 Hackers targeted Lady Gaga's Twitter and Facebook accounts in a high-profile scam where they posted a misleading message saying, 'Monsters, I'm giving away FREE iPad2's to each one of you in the spirit of the holidays :) Go to to receive one!'. The link directed the fans to a spam page where they were asked to submit personal details.
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8/11 How I Met Your Mother actor Jason Segel's fell prey to hackers twice. The imposter posted a third party link on Segel's Twitetr page saying, 'Are you serious about starting your own business in 2012? You have to check this out'.
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9/11 Music band No Doubt's Twitter account was hacked recently. The imposter posted tweets endorsing candidate Ron Paul. One tweet said, 'Today We Officially Endorse Ron Paul 2012 Donate to him here #ronpaulrevolution' with a link to donate.
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10/11 Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt's fell prey to hacking last year, when the hacker sent out abusive tweets from the directors' Twitter account to celebs like Kamaal Khan, Poonam Pandey and Sunny Leone. The tweet said, '@kamaalrkhan @SunnyLeone @iPoonampandey #AapC******Hain'
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11/11 Nicole Scherzinger might not be a Ron Paul supporter, but hackers of her Twitter account tweeted out support for him, 'For the first time ever a politician isn't lying to us. WAKE UP AMERICA! Ron Paul 2012 I Love this Guy #RonPaulRevolution.' The singer deleted the tweet soon after realizing that her account has been hacked.
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Peiter “Mudge” Zatko oversaw Twitter’s security from 2020 until he was fired six months ago. (REUTERS)

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing featuring testimony from Twitter whistle-blower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko on Sept. 13, the panel's leaders announced on Wednesday.

The committee said it had subpoenaed Zatko, the company's former security chief, to appear a day after he went public with allegations that Twitter has failed to adequately protect data on its hundreds of millions of users, leaving their personal information open to hackers and spies.

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“Mr. Zatko's allegations of widespread security failures and foreign state actor interference at Twitter raise serious concerns,” said Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the panel's top Republican, Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

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“If these claims are accurate, they may show dangerous data privacy and security risks for Twitter users around the world,” the senators said in the statement.

The committee plans to investigate further with a full hearing and take additional steps as needed to get to the bottom of the allegations, according to the statement.

Zatko, who oversaw Twitter's security from 2020 until he was fired six months ago, submitted reports outlining his claims to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. He alleged that Twitter's head of site integrity told him that the social media company didn't know how many bots, or automated accounts, are on its platform.

Twitter rejected the whistle-blower's claims, describing them in a statement as a false narrative “riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies.” Zatko was fired for “ineffective leadership and poor performance,” Twitter said.

John Tye, chief disclosure officer of Whistleblower Aid, which is representing Zatko in the complaint, said Wednesday evening that “Mudge stands by everything in his disclosure, and his career of ethical and effective leadership speaks for itself.”

“The focus should be on the facts laid out in the disclosure, not ad hominem attacks against the whistle-blower,” Tye added.

Legal experts said Zatko's claims could bolster Elon Musk's legal case against Twitter. The Tesla Inc. founder, who is seeking to back out of his bid to buy the social media site, is arguing in court that Twitter misled him about the amount of bots and spam on the platform.

Lawmakers on several congressional committees have vowed to investigate Zatko's claims and have argued that his revelations highlight the need for federal privacy legislation.

Zatko alleged that Twitter prioritized growth over reining in the scourge of spam accounts, and even offered millions of dollars in cash bonuses to executives that increased the number of daily active users. He also claimed the Twitter sales team has continued to misuse phone numbers for targeted advertising, potentially violating its 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission.

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First Published Date: 26 Aug, 12:08 IST