Vulnerabilities / Threats
3/8/2013
02:02 PM
50%
50%

Pwn2Own Prizes Exceed $500K For Exploits

Only Google Chrome OS withstands attack in annual hacking contest as Flash, Java and every major browser are exploited.

Anonymous: 10 Things We Have Learned In 2013
Anonymous: 10 Things We Have Learned In 2013
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)

This week's Pwn2Own contest at the CanSecWest 2013 conference in Vancouver wrapped Thursday after more than $500,000 in prize money was awarded for exploiting -- sometimes in multiple ways -- the latest versions of all major browsers, as well as Windows 8, Mac OS X, and Acrobat, Java and Flash browser plug-ins.

The annual competition was hosted by HP's DVLabs Zero Day Initiative (ZDI), which offered cash prizes for the first team to demonstrate a unique exploit of everything from IE 9 on Windows 7 ($75,000) and Apple Safari on OS X Mountain Lion ($65,000) to Mozilla Firefox on Windows 7 ($60,000) and Oracle Java ($20,000).

Thursday, Vupen Security exploited the latest version of Adobe Flash, which earned the company $70,000, and a grand total of $250,000 for the two-day contest. The same day, George Hotz (Geohot) exploited Adobe Reader XI, saying that "the first thing I did was break into the sandbox, the next thing I did was break out," according to ZDI.

[ For more on the annual Pwn2Own hacking contest, see Java, Browsers, Windows Security Defeated At Pwn2Own. ]

Their efforts followed successful exploits Wednesday of IE10, Chrome, Java and Firefox, which collectively amassed $320,000 in prize money.

Interestingly, no team came forward to exploit IE 9 on Windows 7 or Apple Safari on OS X Mountain Lion. But in the latter case, some security watchers said that was probably because the Safari prize money ($65,000) offered for such an exploit -- which would likely also work on iOS -- paled compared to the estimated $500,000 it could earn on the open vulnerability market.

In a separate contest at CanSecWest dubbed Pwnium, Google offered up to $3.14 million for anyone who could hack the Google Chrome OS. But in this third year of the contest, Google said that no one managed to exploit the OS. "We did not receive any winning entries but we are evaluating some work that may qualify as partial exploits," according to a statement released by Google.

As with Pwnium, the ZDI contest requires winners to divulge their exploits, including the bugs they used, before they receive any prize money. "As always, vulnerabilities and exploit techniques revealed by contest winners will be disclosed to the affected vendors and the proof of concept will become the property of HP in accordance with the HP ZDI program," read the contest rules. "If the affected vendors wish to coordinate an onsite transfer at the conference venue, HP ZDI is willing to accommodate that request."

Multiple developers of products exploited at Pwn2Own did so request, and less than 24 hours after Chrome and Firefox were exploited, Google and Mozilla had pushed browser updates that fixed the bugs that attackers had used.

"In all seriousness, impressed with the Chrome security guys," said MWR InfoSecurity researcher Jon Butler, who together with fellow employee Nils exploited Chrome. "Bug patched in front of us, lots of interesting discussions," he said.

But the ZDI contest has also drawn criticism for promoting the practice of developing and selling exploits. Notably, Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist and senior policy analyst for the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, took to Twitter to criticize Vupen's CEO and head researcher Chaouki Bekrar for selling exploits.

In response, Bekrar said his company sells exploits only to trusted countries and government agencies. He noted via Twitter "we dont sell exploits to repressive regimes."

Attend Interop Las Vegas May 6-10 and learn the emerging trends in information risk management and security. Use Priority Code MPIWK by March 22 to save an additional $200 off the early bird discount on All Access and Conference Passes. Join us in Las Vegas for access to 125+ workshops and conference classes, 300+ exhibiting companies, and the latest technology. Register today!

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
PJS880
50%
50%
PJS880,
User Rank: Ninja
3/22/2013 | 8:39:10 PM
re: Pwn2Own Prizes Exceed $500K For Exploits
This is not only a great way to recruit IT talent, but also a creative way for companies to find the vulnerabilities within their system. The $500,00 dollars in prizes I ma sure attracts even the most modest system testers. How safe do you feel knowing that vulnerabilities are sold to government agencies to use for whatever purpose it deems necessary? Congratulations to all the winners and the advancing knowledge in the area of vulnerabilities.

Paul Sprague
InformationWeek Contributor
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-6090
Published: 2015-04-27
Multiple cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities in the (1) DataMappingEditorCommands, (2) DatastoreEditorCommands, and (3) IEGEditorCommands servlets in IBM Curam Social Program Management (SPM) 5.2 SP6 before EP6, 6.0 SP2 before EP26, 6.0.3 before 6.0.3.0 iFix8, 6.0.4 before 6.0.4.5 iFix...

CVE-2014-6092
Published: 2015-04-27
IBM Curam Social Program Management (SPM) 5.2 before SP6 EP6, 6.0 SP2 before EP26, 6.0.4 before 6.0.4.6, and 6.0.5 before 6.0.5.6 requires failed-login handling for web-service accounts to have the same lockout policy as for standard user accounts, which makes it easier for remote attackers to cause...

CVE-2015-0113
Published: 2015-04-27
The Jazz help system in IBM Rational Collaborative Lifecycle Management 4.0 through 5.0.2, Rational Quality Manager 4.0 through 4.0.7 and 5.0 through 5.0.2, Rational Team Concert 4.0 through 4.0.7 and 5.0 through 5.0.2, Rational Requirements Composer 4.0 through 4.0.7, Rational DOORS Next Generation...

CVE-2015-0174
Published: 2015-04-27
The SNMP implementation in IBM WebSphere Application Server (WAS) 8.5 before 8.5.5.5 does not properly handle configuration data, which allows remote authenticated users to obtain sensitive information via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-0175
Published: 2015-04-27
IBM WebSphere Application Server (WAS) 8.5 Liberty Profile before 8.5.5.5 does not properly implement authData elements, which allows remote authenticated users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join security and risk expert John Pironti and Dark Reading Editor-in-Chief Tim Wilson for a live online discussion of the sea-changing shift in security strategy and the many ways it is affecting IT and business.