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February 28, 2012

Google Shells Out $1 Million to People That Hack Chrome

By Miguel Leiva-Gomez, TMCnet Contributor

It seems like Google (News - Alert) is having a definite ego trip with its high-end browser security. The company certainly has bragging rights, though. After all, every other popular browser in existence today - including Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari - has been hacked in one way or another. Google's Chrome browser is the only one that stood solid, and now the company is offering prizes adding up to $1 million to anyone who can exploit the browser.

Chrome has been part of hacking contests before, particularly “Pwn2Own,” and came out of the contest unscathed for three years while the other household name browsers have been “pwned” to death. As part of its $1 million prize, Google is asking the hacker who succeeds to reveal the steps taken in such an exploit in order to help the browser protect its users better. This year, it will have to host its own hacking contest in order to have its way, since Pwn2Own changed its rules.

“Originally, our plan was to sponsor as part of this year's Pwn2Own competition,” wrote Google Chrome Security Team members Chris Evans and Justin Schuh on Chrome's official blog. “Unfortunately, we decided to withdraw our sponsorship when we discovered that contestants are permitted to enter Pwn2Own without having to reveal full exploits (or even all of the bugs used!) to vendors.” They add that companies have benefitted from full exploit details released as a requirement of the hacking competition, but it wasn't until this year that it became a “non-requirement.”

Individual prizes in Chrome's competition will total up to $60,000 for a “full Chrome exploit” and each winner will receive a Chromebook - Google's own notebook computer using the Chrome OS.

“Not only can we fix the bugs, but by studying the vulnerability and exploit techniques we can enhance our mitigations, automated testing, and sandboxing,” the engineers continued.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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