Google offers millions to Chrome OS crackers

January 29, 2013 // 11:33 a.m.

Tags: #cansecwest #chrome #chromebook #chrome-os #chromium #chromium-os #google #google-chrome #pwn2own #pwnium #pwnium-3 #security #vulnerability

Google is getting serious about its Chrome web browser and associated cloud-powered Chrome OS operating system, and it's certainly putting its money where its mouth is: the company is putting up a prize fund of several million dollars for hackers who can find flaws in its platforms.

As is usual, the company's Chrome browser - and its open-source underpinnings, Chromium - is part of the Pwn2Own contest held at the CanSecWest security conference each year. Due to kick off on the 6th of March, Pwn2Own provides hackers with brand-new, freshly-updated hardware - Windows, Mac and Linux desktops, laptops and tablets - and gives them away for free to whomever can crack their security in the shortest time. It's a win-win scenario: hackers, crackers and other security types get to show off their skills and hopefully walk away with some free hardware, while the companies behind the packages are given a heads-up on potential security flaws - and hopefully before the ne'er-do-wells get a sniff.

As well as underwriting some of the prizes in Pwn2Own for hackers targeting the Chrome browser, Google has announced that it is continuing its own crackathon dubbed Pwnium - and it's putting up $3.14159 million as a prize fund.

Designed to encourage security researchers to turn their gazes onto Chrome OS, the company's cloud-powered Linux-based operating system, Pwnium 3 provides $π million in a fund for those who are able to successfully attack the platform. Researchers who are able to able to crack the security of a Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook running the latest Chrome OS will walk away with $110,000 for each browser- or system-level compromise delivered via a web page, or $150,000 if the exploit remains persistent between two guest logins with a reboot in the middle.

'We believe these larger rewards reflect the additional challenge involved with tackling the security defences of Chrome OS, compared to traditional operating systems,' boasted Chris Evans, of Google's Chrome Security Team, in a blog post detailing the event.

As with Pwn2Own, which will also target other platforms and software packages, Pwnium 3 is due to take place at the CanSecWest conference in Vancouver, BC on the 7th of March.
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