Who Is Twitter Whistleblower Peiter Zatko, a.ok.a. Mudge?

  • Ex-Twitter safety chief Peiter Zatko is behind an explosive whistleblower criticism in opposition to the corporate.
  • Zatko is a celeb within the hacker group, the place he is know as “Mudge.”
  • He is suggested Invoice Clinton on cybersecurity and testified to the Senate.

Twitter suffered an enormous blow on Tuesday when a whistleblower criticism from Peiter Zatko, the corporate’s former head of safety, was revealed by The Washington Put up and CNN.

The wide-ranging criticism accused Twitter of lax safety practices, mendacity concerning the variety of bots on its platform to federal regulators and Tesla billionaire Elon Musk, and permitting a international agent to infiltrate the corporate.

Zatko is best recognized within the hacker group as “Mudge” and has been a distinguished determine in cybersecurity for greater than 20 years.

Twitter has pushed again in opposition to Zatko’s criticism, characterizing him as a disgruntled worker who was fired for “ineffective management and poor efficiency.”

Zatko says his disclosure was ethically motivated. “All my life I have been about discovering locations the place I can go and make a distinction,” Zatko informed CNN in an interview after his criticism was revealed.

So who’s Peiter Zatko?

Regardless of being concerned with computer systems at elementary faculty, Zatko determined to review music in school, attending Berklee and graduating prime of his class.

After school, Zatko was employed by BBN Applied sciences, an IT analysis and growth firm, to discovered its company safety group, he informed Berklee’s alumni journal. He additionally performed in a progressive rock band referred to as Raymaker.

Whereas at BBN, Zatko banded along with a gaggle of hacker buddies to type Boston-based think-tank L0pht, which got down to discover and disclose vulnerabilities in corporations’ software program, together with Microsoft Home windows.

“We made them look unhealthy and so they hated us for it, however this was one of many primary causes that Microsoft began a safety group,” Zatko informed Berklee’s alumni journal.

In 1998, Zatko testified to the Senate alongside his L0pht colleagues about essential web infrastructure vulnerabilities. He mentioned the group had found an exploit that may enable him and his colleagues to take your entire web offline in half-hour.


Zatko went on to advise Invoice Clinton’s administration on cybersecurity, and his work with the US authorities carried on previous Clinton’s presidency.

“Earlier than 9/11, I did [a] lot of labor with the federal government, and after the assaults I did much more,” Zatko informed Berklee’s alumni journal. “I took a go away of absence from my firm and did professional bono work for the federal government. I used to be a citizen with capabilities the nation wanted, and I felt it was my duty to assist.”

The Protection Superior Analysis Initiatives Company (DARPA), a division of the US Division of Protection, employed Zatko in 2010 as a program supervisor.

Zatko joined Google in 2013, and in 2015 introduced he was leaving the corporate as a result of the White Home had requested him to create a means of showing consumers how secure software was.

In 2016, Zatko and his spouse Sarah designed a instrument that utilized security scores to software program. The couple constructed it from their basement, The Intercept reported.

Zatko joined Twitter as the corporate’s head of safety in 2020 shortly after a high-profile hack compromised a number of celeb accounts.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and co-founder & CEO of Square, attends the crypto-currency conference Bitcoin 2021 Convention at the Mana Convention Center in Miami, Florida, on June 4, 2021.

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey employed Zatko.

Marco Bello/Getty Pictures

Zatko mentioned in his whistleblower disclosure that then-CEO Jack Dorsey sought him out personally for the job. Zatko mentioned Dorsey later displayed a “drastic lack of focus” as CEO, and had little communication with Zatko.

Dorsey left Twitter in November 2021 and was changed as CEO by CTO Parag Agrawal.

Twitter fired Zatko in January 2022, and in July he filed his whistleblower criticism with the Federal Commerce Fee, Securities and Alternate Fee, and Division of Justice.

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