- Pwn2Own’s 15th Annual Hacking Contest is taking place in Vancouver this week.
- The first prize for the participants who managed to hack a Tesla car is $600,000 and the vehicle itself.
- Dustin Childs told Insider he’s never seen a day where every exploit “worked on the first try”.
Several of the world’s top hackers gathered in Vancouver, Canada, this week in an attempt to break into highly guarded technology including Microsoft Teams, Apple’s Safari browser and a Tesla car. The first prize for the people who managed to hack a Tesla Model 3 is $600,000 and the vehicle itself.
Hackers gathered in the framework of a contest to celebrate the hacking contest The 15th Anniversary of Pwn2Ownin what has become a lucrative testing ground for researchers to find exploits and warn companies of their vulnerabilities.
The contest was originally created by cybersecurity researcher Dragos Ruiu in 2007 as a challenge to hack MacBook Pros, and the contest is now held several times a year and takes several days. The competition benefits both hackers, who win prizes, and companies that make fallible technology, as participants reveal how flaws are discovered so they can be fixed, according to MIT Technology Review.
On Wednesday, the first day of this year’s contest, hackers managed to hack Microsoft Teams, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari. Dustin Childs, director of communications for Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative, which is hosting the competition, told Insider he had expected to see “insect collisions,” or two researchers discovering the same flaw, but was surprised to find that everything “was a unique exploit.”
“This is the only contest day in memory when every exploit worked, made the first attempt, and nothing crashed,” Childs said. “Just amazing to see.”
Among the contenders are researcher Manfred Pohl, who has been involved with Pwn2Own before, and representatives from Synacktiv, a cybersecurity firm.
Childs described Pwn2Own as an “outlet” for “researchers to uncover vulnerabilities while they are publicly identified and financially compensated” and stressed the current importance of cybersecurity.
Over the past 15 years, Childs said, the competition has grown “from a small browser-focused event to multiple sites around the world.” He said they started giving winners $1,000 and last year gave $2,000,000 via events. On Wednesday, the first day of the third, they handed out $800,000 in prize money. The 2022 competition is co-ed, which means that participants can attend the event in person or compete virtually.
The name of the competition comes from a combination of the slang term “pwn”, which usually means to beat another person, and “possess”, because competitors who have successfully penetrated software and technology can leave it.
Technology infrastructure has always been a concern among businesses and governments, but it has become an even greater focus in recent years as countries engage in information wars to influence political campaigns and launch targeted hacking operations. In April, US government agencies such as the NSA and the FBI, along with cybersecurity authorities from allied countries were released. joint consultant On Russian actors targeting infrastructure cyber attacks that “could affect organizations inside and outside the Ukraine region.”
Meanwhile, a Russian hacking group known as Konti launched a