(BLP) – Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, the former head of Twitter security, claims that Twitter has allowed foreign intelligence agencies to break into the platform on multiple occasions. He argued that in one case Twitter hired government agents who “would have access to vast amounts of Twitter sensitive data.”
According to Tom Parker of Reclaim the Net, Zatko revealed this shocking information in a whistleblower disclosure that Congress and federal agencies received in July. CNN and The Washington Post first reported on the whistleblower disclosure.
Per the CNN report, the entire disclosure is 200 pages long. 84 of the pages have been publicized in redacted form on top of the 55 pages of supporting documents.
Zatko’s most significant assertion with regards to foreign intelligence penetration is that “the Indian government forced Twitter to hire specific individual(s) who were government agents, who (because of Twitter’s basic architectural flaws) would have access to vast amounts of Twitter sensitive data.”
Zatko claims that Twitter hired Indian government agents but he also alleges that Twitter executives were “knowingly permitting an Indian government agent direct unsupervised access to the company’s systems and user data.”
On top of that, Zatko’s redacted disclosure highlights multiple cases where Twitter’s connections with entities had “harmed free expression” and potentially allowed foreign entities to get their hands on sensitive user data.
One case involved alleged concerns within Twitter that Chinese entities, who already paid Twitter, could obtain information that would give them the ability to identify and learn about sensitive information regarding Chinese users who eluded the Chinese government’s restrictions on Twitter and other users across the globe.
“Twitter executives knew that accepting Chinese money risked endangering users in China (where employing VPNs or other circumvention technologies to access the platform is prohibited) and elsewhere,” the disclosure stated. “Twitter executives understood this constituted a major ethical compromise. Mr. Zatko was told that Twitter was too dependent upon the revenue stream at this point to do anything other than attempt to increase it.”
Another alleged case involved current Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal when he occupied the role of Twitter’s Chief Technology Officer. Zatko asserted that “Agrawal suggested to Mudge that Twitter should consider ceding to the Russian Federation’s censorship and surveillance demands as a way to grow users in Russia” a few months before he assumed the role of CEO.
“Although Mr. Agrawal’s suggestion was never pursued or implemented, the fact that Twitter’s current CEO even suggested Twitter become complicit with the Putin regime is cause for concern about Twitter’s effects on U.S. national security,” the disclosure highlighted. “This was a strong departure from the message Mr. Dorsey had conveyed to Mr. Zatko.”
In addition to expressing concerns about foreign governments infiltrating Twitter and using it as a vehicle for surveillance, Zatko claimed that “Twitter employees were repeatedly found to be intentionally installing spyware on their work computers at the request of external organizations.” Zatko claims that Twitter got wind of this accidentally or due to employee self-reporting.
“It was repeatedly demonstrated that until Twitter leadership would stumble across end-point (employee computer) problems, external people or organizations had more awareness of activity on some Twitter employee computers than Twitter itself had,” the disclosure noted.
The rest of these shocking revelations can be found here.
The US has questionable national security policies. Instead of nation-building abroad and having a porous border, the US should be re-allocating defense resources to bolster security and making sure that foreign actors can’t weaponize immigration to advance mass surveillance ventures.