Hacker competition offers $100k cash prizes

A hacking contest is offering cash prizes totalling $100,000 to coders managing to break their way into virtually any operating system, either mobile or PC bound.

The annual Pwn2Own contest is back for the fourth year running at the CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver, on March 24th 2010.

The competition is two pronged. Hackers will be asked to take on the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox and IE on Windows 7, and Safari on Mac OS X.

The successful execution of code with little or no user-interaction will earn the hacker $10,000 and the notebook the challenge is running on.

If a browser survives to day three of the contest it will installed on Windows XP, possibly the flakiest version of Windows, to see if it can be brought down there. This doesn't apply to Safari, naturally.

A second thread puts up $60,000 prize money in a challenge to break into an iPhone, Blackberry Bold, an Android device or a Nokia smartphone.

Along with the $10,000 in cash, the successful hacker gets to keep the broken phone and is awarded points in organiser TippingPoint's Zero Day Initiative worth a further $5,000.

Last year, none of the five smartphones in the contest was cracked open, but Firefox, Safari and a preview of IE8 were successfully beaten by hackers. Only Chrome survived.

TippingPoint said it purchases the rights to the vulnerabilities and exploit code used in the contest and reports them to the vendors.