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Former Twitter head of security, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, reveals the platform's security weaknesses during congressional testimony. Lawmakers will grill current and former social media executives about disinformation. And there's a new phishing scheme targeting researchers and journalists. This is CyberScoop for Sept. 13.

Mudge talks: Twitter is a spy's paradise

Twitter’s inability to track internal access to data blinded them to foreign spies, the company’s former head of security, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, testified at a hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Zatko called the issue “a lack of fundamental tools and access controls” that put the company at least 10 years behind industry norms. Mudge recounted that at one pointed later in his tenure, for instance, there were “thousands of failed attempts to access internal systems per week” and nobody could explain where they were coming from or what they were trying to access. Tonya Riley reports.

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Senators to question social media executives

Six current and former social media executives will testify before the Senate Homeland Security Committee Wednesday at a hearing that committee officials say will focus on how algorithms and targeted ads can amplify harmful content and threaten homeland security. Several of the witnesses have become strong critics of the platforms, including a former Facebook vice president, Brian Boland, who said he left the company because he believed its products were further fueling racism in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing. Wednesday’s hearing is just the latest Congressional foray into trying to better understand how social media exacerbates disinformation, a threat that Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly recently called a surging and “incredibly difficult problem” plaguing her agency as it tries to protect the electoral system from cyber threats. Suzanne Smalley has more.

Phishing with friends

Hackers are using a clever new phishing technique to create email threads with multiple responses to trick potential victims into thinking bogus messages are legitimate. The cybersecurity firm Proofpoint has identified the group deploying these so-called “multi-persona impersonation” emails as TA453. The company previously linked TA453 to Iran and says the tactic is designed to get targets to click through using by employing a psychological phenomena known as "social proof," which is roughly equivalent to herd mentality. They'll impersonate multiple people, researchers say, and then reply to email threads from the different accounts to bolster credibility. AJ Vicens with the story.

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