Pwnium 4 - Google's $ 3 mn challenge for Chrome OS hackers.
Google has announced it will pay a combined total of nearly US $ 3 million if hackers and security experts are able to hack its Chrome browser-based OS at the Pwnium 4 hacking contest.
This year Pwnium will be hosted in March, in which researchers would be allowed to choose between Intel- or ARM-powered laptops, while last year, they had to try to crack a Chromebook with an Intel processor only. Hackers can put their skills to the test by trying to hack into either the HP Chromebook 11 or the Acer C720 Chromebook to get the highest bounty.
The company said it will pay out prizes of US$110,000 and US$150,000 for particularly impressive or surprising exploits, like one that could circumvent kASLR, a new variant of the better-known ASLR anti-exploit technology used by Apple, Microsoft and Chrome OS. In total, it will pay US $ 2.71828 million, which is a reference to the mathematical constant e, a concept that's important to know when writing algorithms.
To earn the US$110,000 payouts, hackers will have to compromise Chrome OS through a Web page. For the US$150,000 prize, hackers will have to compromise the computers so thoroughly through a Web page that the machine is still under their control even after it has been rebooted and hackers must provide functional exploit code and details on all the vulnerabilities put into play. Google said it will also pay bonus prizes for clever hacks.
Pwnium 4 is to be held at the Canada Security Conference in Vancouver. To register for the contest, hackers can email Google at firstname.lastname@example.org. Google has held such contests before as a way to entice hackers to find security holes and present them to the company upfront, rather than disturb users and the company by performing their hack at a random time.