The first Pwnium was held earlier this year at the CanSecWest conference in Vancouver, and has ended with researchers Sergey Glazunov and 17-year-old "PinkiePie" earning $60,000 each for exploits that that allowed them to break out of Chrome's sandbox and execute code on the targeted computer.
The next edition - named Pwnium 2 - is set to be held in October at the Hack In The Box 10 year anniversary conference in Malaysia, and this time Google will be sponsoring up to $2 million worth of rewards.
Researchers coming up with "full Chrome exploits" (using only bugs in Chrome) will be awarded $60,000, and "partial Chrome exploits" (at least one bug in Chrome + other bugs) will be worth $50,000. "Non-Chrome exploits" using bugs in software such as Flash, Windows or drivers are priced at $40,000.
This time around even researchers that present incomplete exploits (not reliable, or an incomplete exploit chain) will be rewarded - the amount will be decided by a reward panel. "For Pwnium 2, we want to reward people who get 'part way' as we could definitely learn from this work," Chris Evans, Google Software Engineer explained.
According to him, Google decided to compress the reward levels closer together because their ultimate goal is to "make the web safer by any means", and that includes rewarding vulnerabilities outside of their immediate control.
Researchers thinking of participating have nearly two months for getting ready, and the rules they are as follows:
Exploits should be demonstrated against the latest stable version of Chrome. 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.
By subscribing to our early morning news update, you will receive a daily digest of the latest security news published on Help Net Security.
With over 500 issues so far, reading our newsletter every Monday morning will keep you up-to-date with security risks out there.