Photo: Sarah Silbiger for CNN
Twitter's executive incentives encourage leadership to prioritize profits over security, Peiter Zatko reveals to the US Congress. The platform's management ignored the issues raised by the engineers because the competency to understand their scope was lacking, the whistleblower said.
Twitter whistleblower Peiter Zatko told the US Congress on Tuesday that the platform ignored his security concerns and revealed more details about the company's operations. The whistleblower stated that the platform has serious security problems, but the leadership of Twitter is misleading everyone, including lawmakers and regulators.
“I’m here today because Twitter leadership is misleading the public, lawmakers, regulators and even its own board of directors,” the whistleblower said during the hearing.
Zatko served as the platform's head of security from late 2020 until his dismissal in January 2022. He found many serious platform vulnerabilities that opened the way for hacking or data theft. Zatko said he repeatedly tried to warn management about problems, but to no avail. The problem was that Twitter does not know where all the data is stored, so it is not able to protect it. At the same time, company employees have too much access to user data and can even make changes to them.
“They don't know what data they have, where it lives, or where it came from. And so, unsurprisingly, they can't protect it,” he said.
Zatko showed that he provided management with evidence of problems and ”repeatedly sounded the alarm,” but the company's management ignored the engineers because the key leaders were not competent to assess the scale of the problem. In addition, executive incentives encourage them to prioritize profits over security.
“To put it bluntly, Twitter leadership ignored its engineers because key parts of leadership lacked competency to understand the scope of the problem.
“But more importantly, their executive incentives led them to prioritize profits over security.”
© 2022, Eva Fox | Tesmanian. All rights reserved.
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.