Twitter compromised by spies from China and India, whistleblower tells lawmakers

Spies from China and India infiltrated Twitter and the social media company ignored a warning about insider threats, the company’s former high safety official instructed lawmakers on Tuesday.

Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, a Twitter whistleblower who made headlines earlier this year by revealing the company’s vulnerability to infiltration by overseas brokers, instructed lawmakers that Twitter ignored warnings about overseas spies and then fired him.

“Sometimes it’s not just the engineers or the technical access that they want, but it might be information about the plans of Twitter, what plans Twitter has to potentially censor information in a government or concede to a government’s request, or what plans they have for expansion in a particular environment,” Mr. Zatko instructed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He stated numerous nations wormed their means contained in the company.

For instance, he stated he had “high confidence” that India dispatched a spy to watch the nation’s negotiations with the tech company.

When he instructed a Twitter govt of a overseas agent contained in the company, he stated the manager’s response was, “Well, since we already have one, what does it matter if we have more? Let’s keep growing the office.”

China and India usually are not the one nations allegedly infiltrating Twitter. Last month, a federal jury discovered former Twitter worker Ahmad Abouammo responsible of spying for Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Zatko stated the FBI alerted Twitter earlier this year about at the least one agent of China’s Ministry of State Security on the company’s payroll. He stated he realized of the FBI alert roughly one week earlier than Twitter fired him for alleged poor job efficiency.

Twitter’s careless strategy to the specter of overseas brokers means there are possible different nations’ spies contained in the highly effective social media agency, based on Mr. Zatko.

“If you’re not placing foreign agents inside Twitter, because it’s very difficult to detect them, it is very valuable to a foreign agent to be inside there, as a foreign intelligence company you’re most likely not doing your job,” he stated.

Lawmakers expressed outrage and concern, together with suggesting Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal ought to lose his job.

“If these allegations are true, I don’t see how Mr. Agrawal can maintain his position at Twitter,” stated Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the highest Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

The committee invited Mr. Agrawal to testify at Tuesday’s listening to however he rejected the invitation.

Mr. Grassley stated Mr. Agrawal justified his absence by citing the continuing litigation in Delaware involving billionaire Elon Musk’s aborted effort to purchase the social media platform. 

“Let me be very clear,” Mr. Grassley stated, “the business of this committee, and protecting Americans from foreign influence, is more important than Twitter’s civil litigation in Delaware.”

Twitter didn’t reply to requests for touch upon Mr. Zatko’s allegations of overseas spies penetrating Twitter’s ranks. The company additionally beforehand declined to touch upon the committee’s invitation for Mr. Agrawal to testify.

The company will face questions from senators on Wednesday when a Twitter govt is scheduled to seem earlier than the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Mr. Zatko’s testimony to Congress on Tuesday offered a uncommon glimpse into accusations he made to federal businesses after he was fired from Twitter earlier this year. He reportedly agreed to a nondisclosure settlement with Twitter stopping him from talking publicly however permitting him to file the complaints and discuss to Congress.

Twitter paid $7 million to Mr. Zatko as a part of the settlement, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The committee requested info from Twitter’s CEO by Sept. 26 in order that they’ll higher assess Mr. Zatko’s allegations.

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