Every year there are two hacking contests one is called “Pwnium” and the other is “Pwn2Own.” This year there is four million dollars in prize money between the two contests!
So far, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Google Chrome, Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader have already been hacked. Now, at first, this may seem like really bad news! However, it really isn’t. The idea behind these hacking competitions is for top level hackers to come together in teams to try to hack the security of popular software packages. These hacking attempts, if successful, are then documented, and the vendors can quickly close those “holes.” So, in the long run, it hardens the software that we use as consumers, and makes it harder for regular hackers to break through the security of these packages.
Google Chrome and its Chromium operating system, used in their Chromebooks, proved to be very secure but still “hack-able.” However, Google moved quickly to close the holes that were found; making Google Chrome, and their Chromium operating system, still highly secure! This, combined with the fact that they update their software automatically, without user intervention, provides a very secure experience for the user.
The hacking team from China took down Safari and Adobe Flash on the second day of the Pwn2Own” event, and, they also completed the contest with a successful zero day exploit of Adobe Flash. Thier hacking team, called the “Keen team,” earned a $40,000 prize for Safari, and $75,000 for Flash. They said they’ll donate a portion of their winnings to charities representing families of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370.
These “white hat” hackers provide a service to the computing community to help us harden software. And this is just more evidence that their heart is in the right place!