Google Chrome invites ethical hackers to show off their skills

Google Chrome has officially announced that the third annual Pwnium ethical hacking competition will take place at the CanSecWest conference on March 7, where computer experts will be invited to tackle the security defences of the Chrome operating system for big rewards.

In a post on the Google Chromium blog dated January 28, Google Chrome Security Team member Chris Evans explained that the initiative is part of Google's ongoing mission to maximise vulnerability management.

"Security is one of the core tenets of Chrome, but no software is perfect, and security bugs slip through even the best development and review processes," writes Mr Evans.

"That’s why we’ve continued to engage with the security research community to help us find and fix vulnerabilities."

The auspicious figure of US$3.14159 million has been set aside for rewards, with prizes ranging from $110,000 to $150,000 depending on the techniques used to crack the operating system.

"We believe these larger rewards reflect the additional challenge involved with tackling the security defenses of Chrome OS, compared to traditional operating systems," said Mr Evans.

Google has long been a supporter of ethical hacking, having several years ago instigated the Chromium Vulnerability Rewards Program, an ongoing scheme which offers a financial reward to anyone able to identify security bugs in the Chromium web browser.

In August 2012, Google announced that it would be upping the amount awarded in this program in order to reflect the fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult for hackers to identify exploits.

Ethical hacking can be a great way to determine vulnerabilities and backdoors in your organisation's system, by simulating a legitimate unauthorised access attempt.

Your enterprise can then act to quickly and discreetly correct any identified issues before they can be exploited by malicious cyber criminals.

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