Twitter has been in the headlines recently for all the wrong reasons, as its former security chief revealed glaring failures in the company’s data security procedures.
In fact, Peiter Zatko was so frustrated by his former employer’s failings that he compiled an 84-page document in which he claimed that Twitter had misled government regulators and that its security plan was nowhere near as robust as it had alleged.
But what does all of this mean: both for Twitter, and for its millions of users? And why is data security so vitally important for all of us? Read on to find out more.
The worrying extent of Twitter’s alleged security breaches
Among the claims Zatko has made in his detailed complaint report, he alleges that Twitter agreed to take on an Indian government agent, giving this person access to user data which could be used to breach the privacy of those individuals.
He also claims that the social media titan is heavily reliant on funding from various Chinese organizations which could use Twitter to access the sensitive information of Chinese users and discover their identity (Twitter use is forbidden in China).
Finally, Zatko has also asserted that Twitter demonstrated ‘deliberate ignorance’ by allowing millions of accounts that it knew were spam bots to be counted among its valid user numbers – a failing for which Elon Musk has filed a lawsuit against the company.
Zatko’s complaint has been filed with the Department of Justice and the US Securities and Exchange Commission and was passed on to various congressional committees, including the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Commenting on the document, Senator Dick Durbin stated that Zatko’s complaint “may show dangerous data privacy and security risks for Twitter users around the world” if they are confirmed.
With such damning assertions leveled against it – not just from Zatko but from such a high-powered figure as Elon Musk – it remains to be seen if Twitter’s reputation can ever recover. At the very least, some users may be put off and close their accounts; at worst, Twitter could find itself embroiled in a critical legal battle to clear its name.
For the rest of us, these allegations – and the other data-related scandals that have rocked the social media world in recent years – reveal just how important it is to take precautions whenever we use our sensitive information online.
Keeping the personal private
The reality of our 21st-century digital life is that our personal information is constantly under threat. Data brokers from various sectors are constantly attempting to purchase, analyze, and sell our personal details for their own gain; hackers are trying to gain access to everything from our Netflix profiles to our bank accounts; and shadow profiles lurk in the background, trying to use our preferences for nefarious purposes.
This is why so many people invest in a variety of safeguarding techniques, including subscribing to data removal tools such as Incogni to remove their sensitive information from data brokers’ databases.
The prevalence of these severe threats to our sensitive data clearly shows how significant Twitter’s failings are. Not only did the social media giant fail to protect vital information, it actually misrepresented the strength of its security. That’s why this story has made such an impact.