Twitter hires famous hacker to head security operations

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Twitter has hired Peiter Zatko, a famous hacker, to be its head of security, the company confirmed to The Hill on Monday. 

According to Reuters, which first reported the hiring decision, Zatko will take over the position in 45 to 60 days, after a security review has been completed. 

Zatko is a high-profile hacker known as “Mudge” and was a member of L0pht, a hacking group that testified to Congress in 1998 about cyber vulnerabilities in government. He is also one of the leaders of the Cult of the Dead Cow, a hacking group that released tools to hack Windows in a bid to force Microsoft to step up security. 

Zatko has also worked for both the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency at the Defense Department and for Google as part of its Advanced Technology and Projects division. 

“Looks like the cat is out of the bag,” Zatko, writing as Mudge, tweeted on Monday, linking to the Reuters article. “I’m very excited to be joining the executive team at Twitter! I truly believe in the mission of (equitably) serving the public conversation. I will do my best!”

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted, “Welcome, Mudge!” in response to Zatko’s tweet. Zatko will report directly to Dorsey in taking on the position. 

In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Zatko said he would work to address “information security, site integrity, physical security, platform integrity — which starts to touch on abuse and manipulation of the platform — and engineering.”

Zatko was hired months after Twitter experienced the largest security breach in its history, which involved the verified accounts of dozens of well-known politicians, industry leaders and celebrities being compromised as part of what Twitter later described as a “coordinated social engineering attack.”

Twitter said later that the hackers involved had successfully manipulated multiple Twitter employees into disclosing their credentials, allowing the hackers to access the accounts of individuals including President-elect Joe Biden, former President Obama, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The hackers then asked Twitter followers of the verified accounts to send money in the form of bitcoin, with the hackers able to raise the equivalent of $115,000. 

Twitter has stepped up security in the months since and hired Rinki Sethi as its chief information security officer in September. 

Sethi also voiced her support for Zatko on Monday, tweeting that she is “looking forward to working” with him. 

Tags Barack Obama Data breach Elon Musk Jack Dorsey Joe Biden Twitter
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