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Twitter Hires World-Class Hacker to Head Security Efforts

Peiter Zatko, well-known by his hacker handle, Mudge, has been tapped to lead security efforts at the social media company. The move comes after a high-profile breach and amid increased talk of regulation.

(TNS) — Twitter has added a world famous hacker to its team to lead up security efforts after a series of breaches over the summer prompted threats of increased regulation.

The social media giant on Monday announced it hired Peiter Zatko, well-known by his hacker handle, Mudge, to protect the website from outside threats. In an interview with Reuters, he said his wide range of responsibilities at the company will include “information security, site integrity, physical security, platform integrity — which starts to touch on abuse and manipulation of the platform — and engineering.”

Zatko, who was most recently overseeing security at the electronic payments unicorn Stripe, will report directly to Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, starting within the next 45 to 60 days. He also previously worked special projects at Google and oversaw handing out grants for projects on cybersecurity at the Pentagon’s famed Defense Advanced Research and Projects Agency.

“Looks like the cat is out of the bag,” Mudge tweeted 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. I will do my best!”

Zatko kicked off his career in the 1990s as a leader of the the hacker collective, Cult of the Dead Cow, well-known for releasing Windows hacking tools in a bid to push Microsoft into improving its security. He also worked with L0pht Heavy Industries, a hacking group that testified before Congress in 1998 about cybervulnerabilities in government, according to The Guardian.

From there, Zatko joined a group experts advising then-president Bill Clinton on Internet security.

His hiring at Twitter comes after a group of hackers gained access to the company’s internal tools, allowing them to alter account settings and then tweet as high-profile figures and celebrities, including Joe Biden, who was still a presidential candidate at the time, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk.

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