Threat Management, Malware, Network Security, Vulnerability Management

Google increases rewards for bug and exploit finding


To keep the exploits flowing in, Google announced this week that it plans to raise the prizes at its next Pwnium competition, to be held at the upcoming Hack in the Box conference in Malaysia.

In addition, it is upping the bounties it pays researchers who discover vulnerabilities in Chromium, the open-source framework on which the Chrome web browser is based.

For Pwnium, Google is ready to hand out $2 million in payoffs at the Oct. 10 event, including $60,000 for researchers who pull off a "full Chrome exploit," which involves an attack that leverages only vulnerabilities in the Chrome browser. The internet giant also is giving away $50,000 for a "partial Chrome exploit," which requires the use of bugs in third-party software.

"Exploits should be demonstrated against the latest stable version of Chrome," Google software engineer Chris Evans wrote in a Wednesday blog post. "Chrome and the underlying operating system and drivers will be fully patched and running on an Acer Aspire V5-571-6869 laptop (which we'll be giving away to the best entry.) Exploits should be served from a password-authenticated and HTTPS Google property, such as App Engine. The bugs used must be novel i.e. not known to us or fixed on trunk. Please document the exploit."

Google launched the Pwnium contest in March at the CanSecWest hacker conference in Vancouver, at which it offered $1 million in prizes.

As for Chromium vulnerability discoveries, Google also announced it is adding $1,000 to its base bounty, which usually nets recipients about $500.

Evans, in separate blog post, said the company is augmenting the reward because it has noticed a dip in submissions to the bounty program, which launched in January 2010.

"This signals to us that bugs are becoming harder to find, as the efforts of the wider community have made Chromium significantly stronger," he wrote.

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