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Experts Earn $280,000 for Hacking Safari, Flash, Chrome

Pwn2Own 2016 contestants hacked Apple Safari, Adobe Flash Player and Google Chrome, and earned more than $280,000 on the first day of the competition taking place this week alongside the CanSecWest conference in Vancouver, Canada.

The 360Vulcan Team is in the lead after the first day, earning a total of 25 Master of Pwn points and $132,500. The team obtained 13 points and $80,000 for a successful system-level code execution exploit targeting Adobe Flash Player. The exploit leveraged a type confusion bug in Flash and a use-after-free vulnerability in the Windows kernel.

The 360Vulcan Team earned 12 points and $52,500 for a system-level code execution exploit against Chrome. The attack leveraged four vulnerabilities, including two use-after-free issues in Flash, a use-after-free in the Windows kernel, and an out-of-bounds flaw in Chrome.

Organizers are offering $65,000 for a successful Chrome hack and an additional $20,000 for exploits that achieve root- or system-level code execution. However, 360Vulcan’s attempt to break Chrome is considered only partially successful as the Chrome vulnerability they exploited had been previously reported to Google.

The second position is occupied by JungHoon Lee, a.k.a. Lokihardt, who earned 10 points and $60,000 for hacking Apple’s Safari web browser with the aid of four new vulnerabilities, including a use-after-free flaw in Safari and a heap overflow that he leveraged for root escalation.

Tencent Security Team Sniper earned 13 points and $50,000 for hacking Flash Player via an out-of-bounds vulnerability that allowed arbitrary code execution at system level. The exploit chain consists of an information leak vulnerability in Flash and a Windows kernel use-after-free.

Tencent Security Team Shield follows close behind with 10 Master of Pwn points and $40,000, which they earned for successfully executing code in Safari with root privileges. The exploit involved use-after-free flaws in Safari and a privileged process.

Tencent Xuanwu Lab tried to hack Adobe Flash in Microsoft Edge, but the attempt failed.

This is the first edition of Pwn2Own where contestants have been invited to escape a VMware virtual machine for a bonus of $75,000.

The team that has the highest number of Master of Pwn points at the end of the competition will receive an extra 65,000 ZDI reward points (worth $25,000) and a laptop estimated at $1,000.

It remains to be seen if contestants manage to surpass last year’s total payout, when white hat hackers earned $552,000.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.