Twitter Hires Noted Hacker as Head of Security Months After Bitcoin Scam

Twitter has hired Peiter Zatko, a prominent white-hat hacker going by the handle "Mudge," to help prevent future security breaches.

AccessTimeIconNov 17, 2020 at 8:36 a.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 3:13 a.m. UTC

Twitter has hired a new head of security four months after suffering one of the worst breaches in its 14-year history.

As reported by Reuters on Monday, Peiter Zatko, a prominent white-hat hacker going by the handle "Mudge," said he will take charge of security, site integrity and engineering on behalf of the social media giant.

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  • "Looks like the cat is out of the bag," said Zatko in a tweet on Monday. "I’m very excited to be joining the executive team at Twitter! I truly believe in the mission of (equitably) serving the public conversation."

    Zatko will answer directly to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and will take over management of security functions at the social media site after a 45-60 day review, per Reuters' reporting.

    The infamous hacker made a name for himself in the 1990s when he undertook classified work for a government contractor while also leading a hacking group known as the Cult of the Dead Cow with the aim of exposing security flaws in Microsoft Windows.

    The new hire comes as part of Twitter's attempts to increase its security after a group of teenagers compromised 30 high-profile Twitter users. In the breaches, hijacked accounts sent out messages to their millions of followers falsely promising to double the money of users who sent in bitcoin – what's known as a crypto giveaway scam.

    In a separate attack in September, hackers hijacked a Twitter account of Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, disseminating messages asking for cryptocurrency donations. Twitter is now looking to tighten its defense against future attacks and guard against the threat of regulatory action.

    Zatko had recently been charged with maintaining security at the San Francisco-based electronic payments platform Stripe, and also brings a wealth of experience from his time at Google and the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research and Projects Agency (DARPA).

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