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Twitter Bags World Renowned Hacker to Head Platform Security

David Paul

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Peiter Zatko, whose hacker name is ‘Mudge’, will bring 20 years of experience to the role.

Twitter has announced the appointment of one of the world’s best-known hackers to protect it from cybersecurity threats.

Peiter Zatko, Twitter’s new security head, is one of the world’s best-regarded hackers and has previously tackled everything from engineering missteps to misinformation.

Known by the pseudonym ‘Mudge’, Zatko will be responsible for key security functions, including information security, site integrity, physical security, platform integrity, and engineering. He also said he is committed to ‘improving public conversations’ on the platform.

Speaking to CNBC, Zatko said of the social media platform: “They are willing to take some risks. With the challenges of algorithms and algorithmic bias, they are not standing by and waiting until someone else solves the problem.”

In a Tweet, Zatko said he was “excited to be joining the executive team” at Twitter and was looking forward to “serving the public conversation”.

Zatko most recently oversaw security at the electronic payment unicorn Stripe. He has also previously worked with Google and overseen the handing out of grants for projects on cybersecurity at the Pentagon’s famed Defense Advanced Research and Projects Agency (DARPA).

His unusual employment comes months after a major data breach in July hit 130 high-profile Twitter users, seeing hackers steal accounts and send Tweets.

Twitter is looking to bolster its cybersecurity and protect from malicious actors after a series of major security issues at large corporations this year, including Facebook and the Marriott Hotel chain.

July’s breach saw users, including Amazon boss Jeff Bezos and former US President Barack Obama, have their accounts stolen after hackers used employee access through the backdoor of Twitter’s systems to take control.

Other high-profile accounts including rapper Kanye West, investor Warren Buffett, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and the corporate accounts for Uber and Apple.

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The firm has also had other hack attempts in the past, after an unknown hacker compromised the Twitter account of pro-Brexit campaigner Arron Banks, leaking thousands of his private messages.

Banks accused Twitter of taking too long to respond to the incident, stating that the platform has “deliberately chosen” to leave his personal information online.

The social media platform has responded, saying it had “taken steps to secure the compromised account”.

Commenting on Twitter’s July breach, Alex Stamos, a former Facebook chief security officer and current Stanford researcher, said: “The data breach this summer was an important reminder of how far Twitter needs to go in building some of the basic security functions necessary to run a service targeted by adversaries much more skilled than the teenagers arrested for that incident.”

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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