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Google is Offering $1 Million in Prizes to Hackers Who Crack Open Chrome

With Chrome gaining more and more of the world’s browser share, it’s important that it be secure; important enough that Google is going to be offering prizes totaling $1 million to hackers who can uncover exploits of varying intensity in their popular browser. The prizes are being offered alongside the sixth annual Pwn2Own contest where hackers will compete to use and abuse Internet browsers. Those taking on the Windows 7 version of Chrome stand to win individual prizes of $20,000, $40,000, or $60,000 depending on the l33tn335 of their 5k1llz.

The Pwn2Own contest, which will take place at next week’s CanSecWest security conference, has a history of taking browsers to task. Last year, exploits were found in both Safari and Internet Explorer, although no one bothered to take on Chrome, despite the fact that Google was handing out extra cash. The contest’s organizer, Tipping Point, had offered a $15,000 exploit prize, and Google added another $20,000 to sweeten the deal, hoping that a little extra coin will attract some real go-getters.

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This year, however, Google is striking it out on its own, contest-wise. While they initially intended to sponsor the Pwn2Own contest, they pulled out after a rule change specified that hackers are not required to reveal the full nature of the exploit to browser makers. So now they’re running their own little contest called Pwnium which will take place in conjunction with Pwn2Own, but is a separate competition. Needless to say, hackers who want the Google prizes are going to have to hand over a blow-by-blow breakdown.

Google seems excited, and hopeful, to finally get some exploits to fix. They put it this way in the blog post announcing the prizes:

While we’re proud of Chrome’s leading track record in past competitions, the fact is that not receiving exploits means that it’s harder to learn and improve. To maximize our chances of receiving exploits this year, we’ve upped the ante.

The prizes will be doled out in a first-come-first-served basis until the $1 million cap is reached, if it is at all. The competitions will begin on March 7th, so here’s to hoping we’ll hear a good story about the insanely l33t h4x0r who turned Chrome totally inside out. Or maybe here’s to hoping we won’t hear that. Honestly I can’t decide which would be better.

(The Chromium Blog via Ars Technica)

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