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Jason Ogaard: The NSA and Target breach highlight intricacies of the web

In the world of technology, news move fast.

In recent columns, I’ve written about Edward Snowden’s leaked documents about ongoing NSA spying on pretty much the whole world and more recently a security breach at Target retail stores.

These stories are not static, they continue to evolve and new information is learned almost daily. Here are some updates for those stories.

Edward Snowden leaked tens of thousands of documents to columnist Glen Greenwald of the British newspaper, The Guardian.

It’s been months since the leak but Greenwald has only been able to go through a small percentage of them.

As he goes through them he can deliver their message, but it’s going to be a long time before we are know the entirety of what those documents say.

Since the Snowden leaks, the NSA has had to do quite a bit of public relations work. We’ve recently learned that the NSA has: collected more than 200 million text messages, been spying on communications foreign leaders (including our allies), members of Congress, collected telephone records of pretty much everyone everywhere… With the help of companies such as AT&T, the NSA has the ability to record all of the Internet traffic every day, and they do. Also, Snowden has received asylum for one year in Russia.  

Recently President Barack Obama gave his first speech regarding the spying program.

In his speech, the president states the NSA isn’t spying on ordinary citizens, but high-profile targets.  

However, the agency will continue to spy on billions of earthlings, U.S. citizens included.  

Obama did outline a new directive regarding how this information can be used, but not how or how much of the information is gathered.

Since the initial reports of the Target security breach, new information has surfaced.

Target initially disclosed that 40 millions customers data had been stolen during the first two weeks of December.

We now have information of another 70 million accounts stolen.

This new list is a separate list but it is part of the same data breach.

It’s likely that there is a lot of overlap between the first list and this new one, but this new list means that account information for up to 110 million customers could have been stolen.

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel has stated that any fraudulent charges will be taken care of by Target.

In addition, Target is offering one year of free credit monitoring for any customers that were affected.

If you are offered this, you will receive an email.

If you get this email, make sure that any links you click on redirect you to Targets website, nefarious people will spam that email out with malicious links in an attempt to scam unwitting recipients.

The department of Homeland Security has issued a warning stating that attackers are likely to target (pun intended) other big retail chains as well.

The attackers are likely located in eastern Europe where global law enforcement like the FBI don’t have a large presence.

The breach was caused by malicious software on the systems that customers swipe their cards on at the register. These systems are used by more than just Target.  

JASON OGAARD was born in Bemidji and is a software engineer for FICO, a Minneapolis based public company providing analytics and decisionmaking services, including credit scoring credit bureaus.