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HP ZDI Dangles $300,000 for Mobile OS Zero-Days

HP’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) is dangling more than $300,000 in cash to entice hackers to demonstrate zero-day attacks against the Apple iOS, Android, Windows RT and BlackBerry mobile platforms.

HP’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) is dangling more than $300,000 in cash to entice hackers to demonstrate zero-day attacks against the Apple iOS, Android, Windows RT and BlackBerry mobile platforms.

As part of this year’s Mobile Pwn2Own hacker challenge, ZDI is partnering with Google and Android to gather intelligence on realistic attacks against the most widely deployed smart phones.

Mobile Pwn2Own will form part of the PacSec Applied Security Conference in Tokyo, Japan later this year. Google and BlackBerry will join HP ZDI as challenge sponsors.

The organizers plan to pay as much as $100,000 for exploits that target the baseband layer of mobile devices and $70,000 for a full code execution compromise of messaging services like SMS, MMS or CMAS (Commercial Mobile Alert System).

Attacks against short-distance technologies like Bluetooth, Wi-FI, USB or Near Field Communications (NFC) will pay out $50,000 while mobile web browser compromises will fetch $40,000.

The organizers also plan to shell out $40,000 in cash prizes for a compromise of mobile applications or the actual mobile operating system.

In the mobile web browser category, Google’s Chrome Security Team will thrown in a “top-up reward” if a hacker successfully compromises Chrome on Android, either on Google Nexus 4 or Samsung Galaxy S4. Google says the prize amount will be bumped by $10k to make it a total of $50,000.

Researchers can pick any of these mobile devices to target:

• Nokia Lumia 1020 running Windows Phone

• Microsoft Surface RT running Windows RT

• Samsung Galaxy S4 running Android

• Apple iPhone 5 running iOS

• Apple iPad Mini running iOS

• Google Nexus 4 running Android

• Google Nexus 7 running Android

• Google Nexus 10 running Android

• BlackBerry Z10 running BlackBerry 10

According to HP ZDI’s Brian Gorenc, successful attacks must require “little or no user interaction” and must demonstrate remote code execution by bypassing sandboxes (if applicable) and exfiltrating sensitive information, silently calling long-distance numbers, or eavesdropping on conversations. All vulnerabilities used in the attack must be unpublished zero-days.

This is the second edition of Mobile Pwn2Own. Last year at the EuSecWest conference in Amsterdam, researchers successfully compromised fully patched iPhone and Android devices using zero-day exploits against Apple’s MobileSafari browser and via the NFC implementation in the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Written By

Ryan Naraine is Editor-at-Large at SecurityWeek and host of the popular Security Conversations podcast series. He is a security community engagement expert who has built programs at major global brands, including Intel Corp., Bishop Fox and GReAT. Ryan is a founding-director of the Security Tinkerers non-profit, an advisor to early-stage entrepreneurs, and a regular speaker at security conferences around the world.

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