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HP Promises Half a Million Dollars in Prizes for Pwn2Own 2015

HP’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) has announced the rules and prizes for this year’s Pwn2Own competition, scheduled to take place March 18-19 at the CanSecWest 2015 security conference in Vancouver, Canada.

For Pwn2Own 2015, ZDI has prepared more than half a million dollars in prizes, including cash and non-monetary rewards. Google’s Project Zero is also sponsoring this year’s event.

The prizes for Pwn2Own 2015 are as follows:

  • Google Chrome (64-bit): $75,000
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 (64-bit): $65,000
  • Mozilla Firefox: $30,000
  • Adobe Reader running in Internet Explorer 11 (64-bit): $60,000
  • Adobe Flash (64-bit) running in Internet Explorer 11 (64-bit): $60,000
  • Apple Safari (64-bit running on OS X Yosemite): $50,000

The targeted applications will run on the latest, fully patched versions of Windows 8.1 x64 and OS X Yosemite. Internet Explorer will have Enhanced Protected Mode (EPM) enabled.

It’s worth noting that the bounties are lower compared to last year, when ZDI offered $100,000 for Chrome and Internet Explorer exploits, $50,000 for Firefox exploits, and $65,000 for Safari exploits.

Last year, ZDI offered a grand prize of $150,000 for system-level code execution on Windows 8.1 on Internet Explorer 11 with Microsoft’s Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) enabled. For Pwn2Own 2015, there is no bonus for bypassing EMET. In fact, all the exploits identified by participants must work with all EMET protections enabled. Contestants that achieve system-level code execution will get an additional $25,000.

In the case of Chrome, researchers who successfully exploit the latest release of Chrome 42, which will not be on the stable channel at the time of the event, will receive an extra $10,000.

“A successful entry in the contest should leverage a vulnerability to modify the standard execution path of a program or process in order to allow the execution of arbitrary instructions,” explained Brian Gorenc, manager of vulnerability research for HP Security Research and head of the ZDI project. “The entry is required to defeat the target’s techniques designed to ensure the safe execution of code, such as Data Execution Prevention (DEP), Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR), and application sandboxing. The resulting payload should be executing in an elevated context (for example, on Windows-based targets, Medium integrity level or higher).”

As always, all the vulnerabilities will be disclosed to the affected vendors and the proof-of-concept code used by participants will become the property of HP.

Researchers who want to take part in Pwn2Own 2015 must register by sending an email to [email protected]. The complete set of rules is available on the ZDI website.

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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.