Calling All Hackers: Pwn2Own 2013 Is Offering Big Money for the Best Hacks

by Ostatic Staff - Jan. 22, 2013

Slowly but steadily, the Pwn2Own hacker contest has become an important fixture in the world of testing the security of software applications, operating systems and hardware devices. The computer hacking contest is held annually and gets sponsored by titan-sized technology companies.

Last year, we reported on how a group of French hackers won cash prizes in the competition for uncovering big bugs in the Google Chrome browser.  This year, HP TippingPoint, a sponsor of Pwn2Own, has made clear that it is expanding the focus of the competition beyond browsers. Also, Pwn2own 2013 will include $560,000 in prize money for demonstrations of exploits in the major web browsers, Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash or Oracle Java.

Pwn2Own always runs in conjunction with the CanSecWest security conference, which is coming up March 6 to 8 in Vancouver.

According to a TippingPoint post:

"The contest will take place the 6th, 7th, and 8th of March in Vancouver, British Columbia during the CanSecWest 2013 conference. This blog post will be updated as the contest plays out and get real-time updates by following either @thezdi or @Pwn2Own_Contest on Twitter or search for the hash tag #pwn2own."

"The targets will be running on the latest, fully patched version of the Windows 7, 8, and OS X Mountain Lion. All targets will be installed in their default configurations, as this is how a majority of users will have them configured. As always, the vulnerabilities utilized in the attack must be unknown and not previously reported to the vendor. If a sandbox is present, a full sandbox escape is required to win. A given vulnerability may only be used once across all categories."

In case you haven't realized it until now, if you use any of the major browsers, you are already benefiting from the world-class hacking that goes on in the Pwn2own competition. It's only natural that the scope and prize money for this contest are expanding. Google is a sponsor this time around, and it won't be a surprise to see other large tech companies join as sponsors.

We'll follow up in March on what this year's competition brings.