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Pwn2Own hacking contest winds down after paying a record $480K

Gregg Keizer | March 11, 2013
A day after researchers hacked Chrome and Firefox at the Pwn2Own contest, Google and Mozilla patched their browsers Thursday.

Pwn2Own's total award payout for the two days was $480,000, a record for the contest, which is now in its eighth year. The Vupen team took home over half of that, $250,000, for its exploits of IE10, Firefox, Flash and Java.

But Google's Pwnium 3, which also ran Thursday at CanSecWest, the same Vancouver, British Columbia security conference that hosted Pwn2Own, came up empty-handed.

"Pwnium 3 has completed and we did not receive any winning entries," a Google spokeswoman said in an email late Thursday. "We are evaluating some work that may qualify as partial credit."

Pwnium had attracted pre-contest attention for its large awards -- up to $150,000 for each hack, with Google committing to a maximum payout of as much as $3.14 million -- and its focus on Chrome OS, the browser-based operating system that powers laptops such as the $249 Samsung Chromebook and Google's own $1,299 Chromebook Pixel.

ZDI called an end to the contest Thursday, even though no researcher had attempted to take down the one remaining target, Apple's Safari browser running on OS X Mountain Lion.


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