Google announced Monday evening that it’s offering up to a million dollars in rewards at a hacking contest it’s calling Pwnium, which take place at the same time as the annual Pwn2Own hacking contest at the CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver. Hackers don’t necessarily need to target Chrome to win a chunk of that money: Google is paying $20,000 to any participant who can exploit hackable bugs in Windows, Flash, or a device driver, security problems that would affect users of all browsers. But for hacks that include flaws specific to Chrome, Google will pay $40,000 each, and for those that exploit only bugs in Chrome, the company will shell out $60,000, up to its million dollar limit.
$60,000 – “Full Chrome exploit”: Chrome / Win7 local OS user account persistence using only bugs in Chrome itself.
$40,000 – “Partial Chrome exploit”: Chrome / Win7 local OS user account persistence using at least one bug in Chrome itself, plus other bugs. For example, a WebKit bug combined with a Windows sandbox bug.
$20,000 – “Consolation reward, Flash / Windows / other”: Chrome / Win7 local OS user account persistence that does not use bugs in Chrome. For example, bugs in one or more of Flash, Windows or a driver. These exploits are not specific to Chrome and will be a threat to users of any web browser. Although not specifically Chrome’s issue, we’ve decided to offer consolation prizes because these findings still help us toward our mission of making the entire web safer.
Google offered an extra $20,000 to anyone who could hack its browsers last year, no one took up the challenge. That result provides great marketing fodder, but Google says it’s more eager to expose bugs in its code–hence this year’s massive payouts. “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,” Evans and Schuh write. “To maximize our chances of receiving exploits this year, we’ve upped the ante.”