Hacker Enters Guilty Plea to Attacks on U.S. Intelligence Officials

Today's topics include a guilty plea from first of five individuals who were charged with hacking the internet accounts of senior United State government officials, Waymo's preparations to test a fleet of self-driving cars developed with partner Fiat-Chrysler, the enhanced search features in an upgrade of Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 portal and a security firm’s finding that security flaws in Web applications declined in 2016.

The first of five individuals associated with the hacker group known as 'Crackas Wth Attitude' (CWA), that are alleged to have hacked online accounts of U.S. Government officials in 2015, has pleaded guilty.

24-year-old Justin G. Liverman of North Carolina entered a plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice on Jan. 6. Liverman is one of two American citizens and five individuals who were alleged to be part of the CWA effort that was able to exploit internet accounts owned by senior U.S Government officials including CIA Chief John Brennan and U.S Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Liverman pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy. According to the agreement, Liverman's actions were responsible for $95,000 in damages, out of $1.5 million in total damages caused by the CWA.

As expected, the first vehicles powered by Google's self-driving technology will hit the roads later this month. The vehicles—a fleet of about 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans developed in collaboration with Fiat Chrysler—will make their initial appearance in Phoenix, Ariz. and Google's hometown of Mountain View, Calif.

John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, the autonomous car startup that was spun out from Google last month, announced the rollout at a press event at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday.

Dynamic 365 kicks off 2017 with an enhanced search experience that removes a lot of the guesswork in tracking down the right information.

Microsoft has upgraded the Dynamics 365 portal, a homepage that greets users of the company's modular, cloud-enabled customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) business application platform.

Now, users can fine-tune the portal's search functionality, enabling them to narrow down the information they're seeking and find answers faster. The software maker added new entity filters to the portal's global search box.

Organizations can customize the list of entity filters to suit their needs. Continuing the theme, Microsoft added a faceted navigation feature to results pages. Appearing as a new pane on the left side of the screen, it allows users to further modify their search results using a variety of filters.

The number of vulnerabilities reported in Web applications decreased slightly in 2016 over the previous year, with flaws in popular content-management systems dramatically declining, security firm Imperva stated in an analysis released last week.

While the decrease in Web vulnerabilities could be considered a sign of improving security for online applications, Nadav Avital, technical lead for Imperva's application security research team, told eWEEK, that's unlikely to be the case.

The fast-changing software landscape—with industrial control systems, the internet of things and mobile applications all relatively fertile fields of vulnerability research—is more likely attracting attention from security researchers and away from Web applications, he said.

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