Twitter has been accused by its former head of security, Peiter Zatko, of prioritising revenue above user security, as the whistleblower takes his allegation of flaw in the company’s network system to the US Senate amid faceoff with Elon Musk.
Zatko spoke with US senators on Tuesday weeks after releasing an 84-page whistleblower complaint on Twitter. He told the lawmakers that Twitter has a flaw in its security, and has done little to protecting user data.
He explained that about 4,000 employees, half of whom are engineers, in Twitter have access to users’ data, but the company doesn’t track the employees that access the information, which includes Phone number and IP address.
This could enable persons with access to obtain a user’s physical address, location they connected from, Email address, amongst other data, which could put the user at harm’s way.
The former US government and Google employee also told the senators that he raised concerns about a potential risk to national security due to Twitter accepting advertisement from companies “which may or may not be associated with the Chinese government”, but Twitter said losing revenue from such organisations would create problem for the social networking site.
Zatko said he’s making the revelation regardless of the risk it will have on his career, “I’m risking my career and reputation.” The whistleblower said, adding that, “if something good comes out of it five or ten years down the line, it will be worth it.”
His disclosure comes at a period billionaire, Elon Musk, accused Twitter of lying about the number of bot accounts on the platform, which Zatko said Twitter doesn’t know how to curb.
Twitter said it has less than 5% fake accounts of its monetised daily active users on the platform, but Musk has insisted that the figure is more, and requested for data on users, but the firm didn’t provide it, and for this reason, the investor said it is a breach of the acquisition contract between both parties, hence, his decision to terminate the deal.
The company has denied breaching the contract, and stood its ground of having less than 5% bot accounts, resulting to Twitter suing Musk to court, with the trial set to begin on October 17, 2022.
Meanwhile, Zatko’s explosive whistleblower report is expected to be an ammunition for Musk ahead of the trial.