Gone are the days when ‘Hackers’ and ‘Testers’ used to be treated as liabilities for the company. The technology has evolved around best practices of development and to keep the development team on its toes product development companies have started putting big pay packets on the tablet for hackers and testers to grab on to. Following the trend, internet giant Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has also announced to award a total of $2.7 million to anyone who could expose a security bug in Chrome OS as well as Chrome browser at its upcoming Pwnium 4 competition.
Google’s Pwnium 4 competition will be conducted at CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver in March this year. The company will offer $110,000 for each browser or system-level compromise in guest mode or as a logged-in user, delivered via a web page. Besides, company also announced to hand over $150,000 for anyone who can “compromise with device persistence: guest to guest with interim reboot, delivered via web page.”
But that’s not all, this year the company has decided to offer a bonus for exposing surprise or extraordinary exploit. Also, unlike earlier Pwnium competitions, the company has decided to go beyond intel-based Chrome OS devices. Researchers would have more options to pick a device from HP Chromebook 11, Acer C720 Chromebook or any device with an ARM chipset based on Chrome OS device.
Google has upped the ante against such security threats against Chrome OS. The warm market response towards Chrome OS powered laptops parallel to a recent major security glitch identification in Chrome OS are the main reasons behind Google’s decision to raise price money this year. A recent identified bug allows malicious websites to gain access to the microphone of your Chrome OS powered laptops and hear everything people speak while sitting near the device. The bug was reported by Tal Altar and was nominated for Pwnium award.
This is not the first time Google has floated such contests, it has been there for the last few years. However, with an increased award money at stake this time, it’s expected to become a crowd puller.
What’s there in the name ?
Google is an engineer driven company, and therefore loves to play with geeky numbers. The company has named the conference after being influenced with popular geek term ‘Pwn’, which means ‘breaking into something usually in a video game and owning it’, while the tale ‘ium’ is derived from Chromium that is pegged to Chrome.