Morning Security Brief: Afghan President Stalls Pact, Australian State's Groundbreaking Cybersecurity Initiative, And More

By Megan Gates

► A security pact between Afghanistan and the United States has hit a roadblock as President Hamid Karzai said at a meeting of Afghan elders that he will not sign it until after the nation’s April presidential elections,The New York Times reports. The pact would allow U.S. troops to remain in the country through 2024 after most foreign forces pull out at the end of next year, and it secures billions of dollars in aid. It was presented yesterday to the Loya Jirga, a council of 2,500 elders from provinces across Afghanistan, as part of a four day meeting that concludes Sunday. The Times notes that Karzai could change his mind if the council approves the pact.

► Victoria, Australia, is set to become the first state in that country to “formally develop a whole-of-government Cyber Security Strategy to bolster its digital defenses and keep critical online services running,” says Government News. The strategy is slated to be completed in 2014 and will set out clear lines of responsibility and “demarcation” for handling cyber threats and issues that previously have depended on an “ad hoc framework to coordinate responses between jurisdictions and agencies.” Among those lines of responsibilities that will be addressed are issues that affect management, operations and security of state government’s computers, networks, and other assets.
► In a second day of talks in Geneva, prospects for a nuclear deal with Iran appeared uncertain as “Iranian diplomats insisted that Western governments formally recognize the country’s right to enrich uranium,” The Washington Post reports. The United States and six other nations are looking to restrict, or scale back, parts of Iran’s nuclear program. They came close to an agreement with the nation during talks two weeks ago, but “fell short partly because of a lack of consensus among Western governments” on the terms. If the two parties don’t reach a compromise, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and other members of Congress have warned that Iran could face tougher economic sanctions. 
► In other news, ⇒ The U.S. Navy suspended a seventh officer for alleged ties to a Singapore-based defense contractor accused of fraud and bribery. ⇒ Coroners released autopsy information on a TSA officer killed earlier this month by a gunman at Los Angeles International Airport. ⇒ SolarWinds, an IT management software provider, released recommendations to help prevent employees from clicking on malware hidden in electronic holiday greetings.



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