Twitter Appoints “Mudge” as Head of Security – Infosecurity Magazine

Social media giant Twitter has created a new head of security position and hired a world-famous hacker to fill it. The appointment of 49-year-old American Peiter Zatko, known online by his hacking handle “Mudge,” was announced by Twitter on November 16.  According to Reuters, guitarist and Berklee College of Music graduate Zatko has been given a broad mandate to review the security structure and practices of the networking site and recommend changes.

After a review period that will last up to 60 days, Zatko will report his findings and suggestions directly to Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey.  In an exclusive interview with Reuters, the new appointee said he will be digging deep into Twitter’s “information security, site integrity, physical security, platform integrity–which starts to touch on abuse and manipulation of the platform–and engineering.” Previously, Zatko worked at electronic payments unicorn Stripe, where he oversaw security.

Prior to that position, the network security expert was hired by Google to oversee the distribution of grants for projects relating to cybersecurity at the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research and Projects Agency (DARPA). Dan Kaufman, who supervised Zatko during his time at DARPA, commented: “I don’t know if anyone can fix Twitter’s security, but he’d be at the top of my list.” Hacker, writer, and open-source programmer Zatko began his career as a government contractor carrying out classified work while simultaneously leading hacking group Cult of the Dead Cow.

The group gained notoriety for placing pressure on Microsoft to up its security game by releasing Windows hacking tools. Zatko was also the most prominent member of hacker think tank L0pht Heavy Industries, a group known for pioneering responsible disclosure of vulnerabilities. Zatko was among seven L0pht members who claimed that they could shut down the internet in 30 minutes while giving testimony before the Congress of the United States in 1998 on national cybersecurity. 

Describing his new employer, Zatko said: “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.”

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