Morning Security Brief: Target Breach Intensifies, NSA Review Commended, Afghan Security Pact Changed, And More

By Megan Gates

► The number of credit cards compromised in the Target security breach has moved from approximately 1 million to 40 million, reports The New York Times. The company is currently working with a forensic team from Verizon to investigate the breach, “but there was no word as to who was behind the attack, how they got in, or what the total cost to Target may be.” Investigators determined that cybercriminals targeted the company’s point-of-sales system to steal customer names, credit or debit card numbers, expiration dates, and three-digit security codes, which can then be used for a number of purposes, including selling the information on the black market.

► Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) released a statement commending the work the Review Group on Intelligence and Surveillance Technologies conducted on the programs of the National Security Administration (NSA). The group issued a review that was declassified by the White House Wednesday afternoon, making recommendations for further oversight and changes to the NSA's metadata collection program, which has come under scrutiny after leaks from former federal contractor Edward Snowden about the scale and impact of the program. "The report issued on Wednesday outlines several recommendations and it's my hope that Congress takes notice and acts quickly to amend Section 215 of the Patriot Act and enacts legislation that ensures oversight of the intelligence community," Thompson said. 

► President Obama may extend the December 31 deadline given to Afghan President Hamid Karzai to approve a security agreement allowing the U.S. to place troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014. “Some in Obama’s inner circle are so exasperated with Karzai that they are willing to wait until the Afghan presidential election is held April 5, as Karzai has demanded, hoping his successor will then sign the pact,” reports The Los Angeles Times. This is not the preferred approach and the White House has said that if Afghanistan’s leadership doesn’t approve the security agreement, it will withdraw all U.S. forces from the nation.

► Part of an Edwardian theater’s ceiling collapsed Thursday night in London during a sold-out performance, seriously injuring seven people and harming 81, according to The New York Times. “A large part of the ornate plaster ceiling came down around 8:15 p.m., just before the first intermission in the packed Apollo Theater on Shaftesbury Avenue, a four-story Edwardian building with three interior balconies that opened in 1901,” the Times reported. The collapse brought down lights and rigging and “witnesses described a tapping or cracking sound, which many thought was part of the play” before the ceiling fell. The cause of the collapse is under investigation, although some speculated that it was a result of recent heavy rain and winds in the London area.

► In other news, a third firm that provides services to the Navy’s fleet has put one of its senior executives on leave, Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned one of his most powerful critics and released him from prison, and South Sudan is on the "precipice" of civil war.


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